Community volunteers are key to Kenya’s fight against malaria
The Fight Through community health volunteers, families are being provided with nets on a need by need basis, given education on how to use them and help to repair or replace them as and when required.
According to the World Bank, between 2003 and 2014, the percentage of households owning insecticide treated nets in Kenya rose from 6% to 59%. With the increased use of nets, currently around 42%, the country has seen infant mortality fall by 7.6% each year since 2005.
Despite the success of recent malaria control efforts, Dr Anne Musuva-Njoroge, Director of Malaria & Child Health at Population Services Kenya notes, “there is a reduction in coverage of nets between the mass net distribution campaigns which occur every three to four years.”
Between 2014 and 2015 the country piloted a community net distribution programme targeting 60,000 people in 12,315 households to look for a more cost-effective and efficient way to sustain universal coverage. Through community health volunteers, families were provided with nets on a need by need basis, given education on how to use them and help to repair or replace them as and when required.
The pilot showed that universal coverage was increased from 48% to 93% in households who participated. “Going forward, we aim to scale the project up,” continues Musuva-Njoroge. “We have strong leadership and commitment from the Ministry of Health, but the key to success will be community health volunteers who have been the cornerstone of the project.”