Kenya Announces ACT Cost Reduction, No-Cost ITN Distribution at Malaria Awareness Month Launch
The cost of the artemisinin-based combination therapy Coartem in Kenya likely will decrease from 300 Kenyan shillings, or about $4 per dose, to between 20 and 30 Kenyan shillings, or about 26 cents to 39 cents per dose, over a two-year period, Elizabeth Juma, head of the Division of Malaria Control at the Ministry of Health, said Tuesday during the launch of Malaria Awareness Month in Nairobi, the Daily Nation reports. In addition, Arthur Itotia of Vestergaard-Frandsen announced that the company will distribute no-cost insecticide-treated nets during the month. Itotia said the company already has provided more than three million ITNs for pregnant women and children younger than age five (Mwaniki, Daily Nation, 4/14). According to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Malaria Awareness Month will coincide with the beginning of Kenya's rainy season (Kithuka, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 4/14).
According to Juma, the price of ACTs is "likely to fall drastically" in Kenya because discussions "between the government, donors and manufacturers appear to have borne fruit." Juma said the malaria control division typically spends about 640 million Kenyan shillings, or about $8.3 million, each year to purchase Coartem, which the ministry distributes at no cost nationwide (Daily Nation, 4/14). According to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, the Kenyan government also aims to provide no-cost malaria drugs in private hospitals and pharmacies within two years. Juma encouraged families to take advantage of the no-cost malaria drugs and to have children younger than age five tested for malaria. In addition, she called for malaria control initiatives to expand indoor insecticide spraying.
Although Kenya has made significant gains in controlling malaria, challenges remain in promoting awareness of prevention and treatment measures, Juma said. She called on stakeholders and the public to collaborate on malaria control initiatives, particularly during the rainy season. In addition, the ministry's malaria division and Vestergaard-Frandsen plan to launch programs to increase awareness about malaria and how citizens can play a role in preventing the disease (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 4/14). According to the Daily Nation, malaria accounts for about 34,000 deaths among children younger than age five and 6,000 underweight infants in Kenya each year. In addition, the disease causes a loss of about 170 million working days annually, which "translates to a reduction of 1.3% of economic growth," Juma said (Daily Nation, 4/14).