Soft targets

Published: Thursday 15 August 2002

Malaria is back with a bang in East Africa. Its latest victim is Kenya, where the epidemic has killed at least 294 people since June 2002. According to estimates, more than 158,000 cases of the disease have been reported in the country's western highlands.

The large number of malaria-related deaths in the area is due to lack of resistance, point out doctors. Low-lying areas near the country's Indian Ocean coastline and its far-western part near Lake Victoria are malaria-prone. But the disease is not endemic in the highland regions. Consequently, the people have neither built up resistance to the disease nor become accustomed to avoiding bites from the mosquito that carries it. Experts also say that communities living in these regions are not commonly exposed to malaria infection and at times of increased malaria transmission, all age groups are affected.

Transmission of malaria multiplied because the epidemic occurred after heavy rains. The Kenyan government has increased its anti-malarial drugs purchase by us $507,300. The affected communities are being told to seek early treatment and use insecticide-treated mosquito nets to ward off the disease.

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