Kenya: Malaria in Meru declines due to accurate diagnosis

Cases of malaria in hospitals in Meru County have significantly declined in the last five years due to more accurate diagnosis.

Data from the county health department shows that in 2016, 38, 000 cases of malaria were diagnosed, down from more than 200, 000 cases diagnosed between 2011 and 2013.

In 2016, 969 pregnant women were diagnosed with malaria, compared to 1,647 in 2015. In 2014, 186, 000 people were treated for malaria, with the figure dropping to 67, 000 in 2015.

The drop in diagnosed and treated cases has been attributed to more accurate testing of malaria. However, private health facilities are on the spot for reporting the most cases of malaria due to misdiagnosis, the Daily Nation Reports.

County Health Records and Information Officer Robert Kinoti told HealthyNation that the high number of patients reported to have malaria and put on treatment in the past was a result of wrong diagnosis.


“Meru is a low endemic area for malaria. Moreover, malaria occurs in low-altitude regions. Most of the malaria cases are being reported from private health facilities that focus on income. They have been sensitised on the need to make the right diagnosis,” Mr Kinoti said.

He added that the health department was focusing on accuracy in reporting saying repeat cases of malaria should be reported once annually.

As a result of proper diagnosis, Meru County significantly reduced expenditure on anti-malarial drugs. In 2015, the county engaged a Canada-based healthcare information technology service provider, Fio Corporation, to improve diagnosis, treatment and record keeping. The technology dubbed Fionet system is being touted as a solution to misdiagnosis and lack of relevant data required for development of health policies.

“In the pilot project we targeted testing for HIV, malaria and other ailments. Previously 32 per cent of all patients treated in our facilities were diagnosed with malaria. But where we have used the technology cases of malaria diagnosis have dropped to less than one percent,” said Meru Health Executive Dr William Muraah.

Dr Muraah added that the health department was now considering donating its malaria drugs to other counties because less patients need them now than before.

“Before we addressed the misdiagnosis, we had to restock malaria drugs every two weeks, but we are now planning to donate them to counties in western Kenya where malaria is more prevalent, because if we keep them, they might expire,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation World Malaria Report (2016) Kenya has a three per cent share of estimated total cases of malaria deaths in Africa, with 15,061 malaria deaths reported in 2015.


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