Kigali: The Rwandan government Tuesday launched a $329 million plan to stop malaria deaths in the country by 2018.
The Rwanda Malaria Strategic Plan is a public health campaign to be coordinated by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre geared at eradicating the disease that claimed the lives of more than 400 people last year, according to Xinhua.
The campaign launched in Kigali focuses on encouraging all Rwandans to sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net, rapid testing and treatment by community health workers within 24 hours of a patient showing signs of malaria and close monitoring of the disease by health personnel.
Speaking at the launch, Corine Karema, director of the malaria division at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, insisted that mosquito nets remain the best way to prevent malaria infection.
"With massive distribution of mosquito nets we notice a 50 percent reduction in infections," Karema told reporters.
She explained that free mosquito nets are given to children under five when they visit a health centre for their measles vaccination and to expectant mothers during prenatal checks.
Meanwhile, Sylvia Muteteli, who works on malaria community outreach with Urunana Development Communication said some people shun sleeping under mosquito nets for various reasons ranging from allergies claims to inconvenience to use.
Muteteli said her organisation, which played a role in developing the strategic plan, tries to discourage the reluctance through radio plays to raise awareness on the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net.
She, however, appealed to local leaders to get more involved in the malaria prevention effort.
There will be a concerted effort to have more community leaders involved in awareness on malaria prevention and treatment, according to Karema.
In 2011 only 210,000 malaria cases were reported in Rwanda. This led people to believe malaria was no longer a threat, Alphonse Rukundo, an epidemiologist specialising in malaria said at the launch.
The Rwanda Malaria Strategic Plan will be funded by the government of Rwanda and the US president's Malaria Initiative and Global Fund.