Tuesday, 07 May 2013

Outsmarting Malaria

By Florence Dallu, Internews in Kenya.

To give journalists a head start on emerging issues on malaria before World Malaria Day, Internews organized a malaria symposium, titled ‘Outsmart Malaria.’ The event was a collaboration between researchers and experts from the Division of Malaria Control, the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Walter Reed Project, Population Services International (PSI) and the Kenya Meteorological Department. The symposium marked the first malaria event of Internews’ new Health Media Project.

A mosquito needs blood cells to nourish its eggs and it infects you with malaria just as a coincidence,” said Dr. Lucas Otieno a researcher from KEMRI during the inauguration of the event. Dr. Otieno told participants that Kenya is among seven countries in Africa involved in developing a malaria vaccine.

By 2015 we should have a first generation vaccine that we hope will reduce malaria deaths by more than 50 percent,” he added

Break away sessions

The interactive event had break away sessions that gave participants an opportunity to learn more about climate and malaria, the use of mosquito nets and how to use data to tell malaria stories.

I enjoyed learning how to use data to make my stories relevant and timely,” said Moses Wasamu, a writer from The Star newspaper who attended the ‘using data to tell malaria stories’ session, “I look forward to using the data and graphics from the Internews data portal.”

Lessons learnt – outsmart malaria

Thomas Nyatome, a resident from Kisumu attended the symposium and told the participants how over-the-counter malaria drugs led to a false sense that his brother would be cured.

“My brother had malaria. We went to the kiosk and bought some drugs. He didn’t feel good at all. By the time we took him to the hospital it had gone too bad so he passed on like that,” he said

This year’s World Malaria Day theme is: invest in the future, defeat malaria.

Dr. Otieno said one way we can defeat malaria is through proper diagnosis and treatment. “Seek health care within the first 24 hours of onset of symptoms,” he urged participants.

According to the Health Management Information Systems 30,000 Kenyans died from malaria in 2012.

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