EAC countries, DRC seek cooperation in malaria fight

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Health officials from the East African Community (EAC) bloc and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are meeting in Kigali to discuss how to cooperate in malaria fight.

The three-day meeting is also reviewing countries progress, impact and gaps in malaria control in East African Community countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Rwanda’s health minister Diane Gashumba.

“Each country cannot work independently in malaria fight. Countries need to come up with a uniform strategy,”Gashumba told journalists after opening the meeting on Monday.

Uganda, Tanzania and DR Congo malaria cases account for about half of the malaria cases in Africa, she said, adding that the reason malaria burden persists is because each country tends to have its own strategy.

From 2016-2017, DR Congo alone observed an estimated increase of more than half a million malaria cases from 24.4 million to 25 million, according to the WHO World malaria report 2018.
DR Congo is the second-leading country in the world for malaria cases, after Nigeria, accounting for 11 percent of the global 219 million cases in 2017, the report shows.

The distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets is critical in preventing malaria transmission, according to the Rwandan minister.

Eric Mukomena, the director of health at DR Congo’s ministry of health said malaria remains a deadly disease and sharing best experiences in its fight is paramount in the region.

Michael Katende, acting head of health department at East African Community Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania said money spent on malaria treatment can better be allocated to development projects once malaria is successfully contained.
Countries need to allocate enough funding to ensure efficient malaria intervention programs because malaria burden hinders development, he said.

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