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Malaria N 9 - Subject N 17

J.H. Ouma

Malaria contributes the highest morbidity and mortality of all infectious diseases in Kenya accounting for 30% of out-patient illness; although its distribution is not uniform throughout the country Mortality among children is high, UNICEF estimates that about 25,000 children die of malaria each year, the actual number of deaths is unknown as most of them occur at home. It is estimated that unprotected children may have about two to five attacks of malaria and adult ten to twenty days disability, due to the disease per year. About half of untreated severe malaria cases are likely to die and only a minority of these cases present in hospitals; while almost 10% of survivors are left with varying degrees of mental impairment.

The predominant malaria species in Kenya is Plasmodium falciparum, accounting for at least 90% of malaria infections. The rest of the species include P. malariae, P. vivax and P. ovale. The principal malaria vectors are Anopheles gambia complex and Anopheles funestus. The distribution of malaria and its vectors follow rainfall pattern.

The malaria problem in Kenya can be summarised as follows: