World health day: Kenya to spend Sh0.7b on indoor spraying

Henry Neondo | 07 Apr 2008
Africa Science News Service

The Kenya government is to spend Sh700 million to undertake indoor insecticide spraying to control mosquitoes in malaria epidemic prone districts in the western highlands whose communities have no immunity against the disease.

Speaking while marking the world health day in Nairobi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Hezrone Nyangito said the country spends Sh1.5 billion annually to treat malaria with Artemisinin Combination Therapy, and needs an overall budget of Sh7 billion every year for malaria control, expected to rise up due to the effects of climate change.

According to the Division of Malaria Control, 25 million Kenyans or 70 percent of the total population is at risk of malaria.

But the PS said that due to indoor residual spraying campaigns embarked on by the ministry, there has not been any outbreak of malaria in the last four years.

Dr James Nyikal, the Director of Medical Services said, the ministry has noted peak transmission of malaria occur during short and long rains seasons, usually from the months of July to September.

Meanwhile, most of diseases prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa are sensitive to variations in climate parameters, the director of the Kenya Meteorological Department has said.

Speaking at the World Health Day function, David Gikungu who represented the director, Dr Joseph Mukaban said it has been established that increases in temperature and rainfall could increase the spread of malaria to high altitude areas as vectors survival, generally known to be below 18 degrees centigrade would be enhanced, thereby increase the possibility of malaria transmission.

Rainfall he said affects the availability and suitability of breeding habitats while temperature affects the rate of mosquito and malaria parasite development, suitability of habitats and mosquito blood-feeding rates.

Gikungu said due to climate change, rainfall patterns have changed adding that while there are reduced frequency of rainfall, but the intensity of rainfall appears to be high leading to frequent storms, which he said causes not only damage to public health infrastructure but leads to increased cases of water-borne diseases such as cholera due to contamination of water sources by surface run-off.

For example, 4 out of the 15 districts that had cholera outbreaks in 2007 had experienced floods prior to the outbreaks.

The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that there is overwhelming evidence that humans are affecting the global climate, and highlighted a wide range of implications for human health.

Climate variability and change cause death and disease through natural disasters, such as heatwaves, floods and droughts.

These include common vector- borne diseases such as malaria and dengue; as well as other major killers such as malnutrition and diarrhoea.

Climate change already contributes to the global burden of disease, and this contribution is expected to grow in the future.

The impacts of climate on human health will not be evenly distributed around the world. According to WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, areas with weak health infrastructure - mostly in developing countries - will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

Developing country populations, particularly in Small Island States, arid and high mountain zones, and in densely populated coastal areas, are considered to be particularly vulnerable.

Fortunately, much of the health risk is avoidable through existing health programmes and interventions.

Concerted action to strengthen key features of health systems, and to promote healthy development choices, can enhance public health now as well as reduce vulnerability to future climate change.