Written by John Kabaka
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The United Nations Good will Malaria Ambassador for Africa Yvonne Chakachaka inspecting mosquito nets in one household in Kakamega and below at the West Fm Production studios. Photo/ West Fm
As the World gears to mark the World Malaria Day under the theme “sustain Gains. Save lives. Invest in malaria, with Kenya having its rallying slogan “Pamoja Tuendelee Kuangamiza Malaria, the fight against malaria in Western Kenya cannot be mentioned without mentioning the South African music maestro Yvonne Chaka Chaka indeed.
This can well be quoted in September 16-22, 2008; in the Lurambi division of Western Kenya region when the diva arrived to launch the Integrated Prevention Demonstration campaign, then , now known as the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
“I have made Lurambi my second home in the region and no one would want her home to be infected and that’s why we are encouraging people to make good use treated mosquito nets.” said Chaka Chaka in West fm studios recently.
The major aim of the launch was to contribute towards the Kenyan national scale-up plan for voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing - HCT that aims to test 80% of Kenya's adult population.
The other was to create a scalable and replicable approach, which can rapidly contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by reducing the incidence of HIV, malaria and diarrhea, with the project targeting Men, women and young people of sexually active 15-49 age group.
The region together with that of Nyanza has malaria prevalence being reported by health officials at 38% in Western and Lake Region despite the prevalence rate declining to below 5% in most areas in the country. Lives are said to have been saved since malaria associated illness and deaths have been reduced by more than 50%.
The campaign encompassed provision of basic care package consisting of a PermaNet long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net.
The campaign, formerly called the “Integrated Prevention Demonstration,” allows more than 40,000 residents of Lurambi division to learn their HIV status by visiting one of the 30 HIV testing sites open from September 16—22, 2008, without forgetting the fight against malaria.
The United Nations good will Malaria ambassador for Africa Yvonne Chakachaka asked Kenyans to visit Voluntary Testing and Counseling Centres (VCTs) to establish their HIV/Aids status.
Yvonne said that knowing one’s status was a great honour for the society especially children adding, “It is important for the young ones who still need care from their parents.”
The South African music icon said deaths resulting from preventable diseases such as malaria, HIV/Aids and diarrhoeal diseases dealt countries’ economies great loss in man-hours and wealth.
Yvonne who spoke during the official launch of an Integrated Prevention Demonstration (IPD), now roll back malaria partnership said the programme was to campaign against Malaria, HIV/Aids and sanitary related ailments.
She as well asked Government’s to make provision of safe drinking water a human right.
The campaign is sponsored by a Denmark private company Vestergaad Frandsen in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other private agencies.
During the launch of the campaign 30 testing centres were set up where those tested were issued with household water purifiers to check sanitary related ailments, a Perm net to check malaria and condoms.
Mikkel Vestergaard, CEO Vestergaard Frandsen Company at the West Fm Studios with host Robert Illukol in one of the live interactive shows.
Vestergaad president and developer of the three pronged concept Mikkel Vestergaad Frandsen said the campaign aims at ensuring the Government of Kenya scales up and achieves its target of making 80% of its populace aware of their HIV/Aids status.
He said his company was determined to helping achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially enhancing maternal healthcare and reducing child mortality.
He challenged other private companies to get involved in achievement of MDGs noting that, “what matters is the commitment to humanity and not the size of the company. Mine is just a small family company.”
Vestergaad said the campaign has a build in evaluation component to assess the coverage and uptake of HIV/Aids counseling and testing adding that the campaign is indented to be replicated across Kenya and later throughout Africa.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who presided over the official launch said the Government was spending huge amount of money in its budgetary allocations on health care.
Assistant Minister for gender and Children Welfare Atanas Manyala Keya said Malaria was still the leading killer disease. He added that 178 people died from the disease last year alone.
At the moment most of the resident cannot have the icon out of their minds when they remember the Perm nets she issued to them to guard them against Malaria.
“I have always been with Chaka Chaka because when I look at my net I see her, she gave the net to meme and I have been able to take care of Malaria well,” said Lurambi resident.
“After Yvonne visited us here we are now in a position to deal with malaria and we have even resorted to fight malaria from the way were taught during the launch,” She added.
Some as well opted to go for the spraying method, “When my house was sprayed, I did not use my mosquito net that night deliberately. I was surprised that the spraying was so effective. I was not disturbed by mosquitoes,” Said Okumu from Bukura village.
This ambitious project entailes encouraging the business sector, the government, village elders and youth to actively draw a line of defense against Malaria for the most vulnerable, that is, children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Regardless, according to ministry of health and sanitation the western region still has challenges to cope with Malaria.
Addressing the press in Nairobi, Permanent secretary in the ministry of Health and Sanitation Mr. Mark Bor said that the continued high prevalence rate in Nyanza and Western province is worrying and the ministry is working with the Kenya medical research institute among other development partners to document reasons for the continued high malaria prevalence in the area.
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