World Malaria Day: What strides have been made in Kenya so far?
Every year, the world comes together to commemorate World Malaria Day on April 25th in recognition of efforts made towards fighting the disease. Several concerted efforts have been made in research and science to control and even eliminate the disease but the realization of a malaria free world still remains a far-fetched dream.
This is especially a stretch for developing countries with pregnant women and children being the major victims of malaria. With factors such as lack of enough treated mosquito nets and families living near bushy and swampy areas, the prevalence of mortality in developing countries is still a staggering statistic. Although the war is far from over, there have been great strides made to fight malaria in Kenya so far.
The fight against malaria has seen the government establishing both preventive and curative measures to reduce deaths from disease. According to the Kemri’s Kenya Malaria fact sheet, some of these include:
Distributing treated mosquito nets to areas with high prevalence of the disease
This includes the provision of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) and insecticide treated nets (ITN) especially in areas with high prevalence of malaria. About 15 million nets were distributed between 2001 and 2009. Malaria transmission in the western highlands of Kenya is seasonal with climatic conditions that favor vector breeding resulting in increased intensity of malaria transmission.
Provision of effective treatment
There has been an increase in provision of training curriculum and manuals. More than 12,000 health workers have been trained worldwide. This strategy is meant to give immediate and effective treatment to malaria patients, especially to pregnant mothers and children.
One step in ensuring the eradication of malaria is sufficient knowledge of the disease, its symptoms and effective methods of preventing the spread of the disease. Information education communication is a strategy that helps to arm the public with malaria preventive and treatment knowledge to communities.
But even with the strides made so far and a shocking figure of an estimated 30-50% of all outpatient attendance and 20% of all admissions to health facilities as a result of malaria; one factor still remains a hindrance in effectively eradicating the disease. An endearing problem of corruption in Kenya’s health procurement systems.
The Society for International Development, the Kenya Legal Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) and Transparency International have discovered incredible abnormalities in Kenya’s public health procurement system.
Transparency International- Kenya Executive Director Sam Kimeu says, “Under the requirements of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015), the PPOA is required by law to update the Market Prices Index quarterly. At time of our research, the PPOA have failed to update the Index four times. The Authority is currently flouting the law.” The lack of due diligence in this regard also ignores the Presidential Call to Action Against Corruption on November 23 that specifically called for the Index to be updated.
KELIN Deputy Director Sandra Ochola notes, “After close examination of the inflated medical drugs and equipment price standards we find that there are bizarre anomalies between the costs of items in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi and generic and patented medicines.”
Specifically, the policy brief calls for seven actions to be taken;
1. Implementing a medicine’s pricing policy: The Ministry of Health to institute in the next two weeks, its own review in the implications of the MPI and publish the findings to develop and implement a medicines pricing policy that increases the level of transparency, regulation and uniformity in the pricing of medicines.
2. The Public Procurement Oversight Authority to overhaul the Market Prices Index in the next 14 days and publish the names and backgrounds of the anonymous renowned researchers engaged by PPOA, selection process and period engaged to produce the Market Prices Index.
3. The Office of the President is also to undertake a review of its Ministries and Parastatals with a view to surcharging Public Procurement Officers and other Officials who may have facilitated significant losses through the purchase of inflated goods and services.
4. National, County Governments, Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and all Level 5 hospitals must publish all health-related procurement contracts for FY2014/2015 on their websites and in the media for public scrutiny accordance with the public’s right to information; The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Asset Recovery Agency to review and institute proceedings. Should it be the case that the MPI has been used to inflate price procurement and further undertake to recover monies from companies that through collusion with public officials supplied above price reference lists.
6. The Office of the Auditor General must pay special attention to the loophole that the Market Prices Index has created for financial inefficiencies, fraud and theft.
7. We also call upon citizens and associations of patients, medical doctors and nurses and citizens to visit the Market Price Index PPOA website and act to bring health and equipment prices down.
“We expect positive responses and action from the different agencies that we have called to act. However, should this not be the case, we will proceed to institute administrative and legal actions,” says Society for International Development Director, Irũngũ Houghton.