Mosquito repellent that should be used by workers during at night. Internet

The Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs has said the use of mosquito repellent creams should be encouraged for people who work at night as an additional way to prevent malaria.

The committee made the recommendation on Thursday, January 19, as the lower chamber of parliament concluded debate on the Auditor General’s report on Rwanda’s anti-malaria programme for July 2017 to June 2021.

While presenting the assessment report, MP Odette Uwamariya, Chairperson of the Committee on Social Affairs, said there was an increase in malaria cases in Nyagatare District. This is attributed to the fact that many people are carrying out work that requires them to stay out longer hence being exposed to mosquitoes.

These people include fishermen, herdsmen, and brick-makers, among others, Uwamariya said, indicating that they can use the repellent cream to complement sleeping under mosquito nets in order to prevent malaria.

“We request that the Ministry of Health increases the use of nets and also considers repellent creams for those who stay outside and are bitten by mosquitoes,” said Uwamariya.

Such creams, she mentioned, are now being produced in Rwanda, while others are imported, adding that the Ministry of Health should look for ways to distribute them to vulnerable residents, while others can buy them in pharmacies at their convenience.

Malaria drop resulting from $261m investment

Between July 2017 and June 2021, Uwamariya pointed out that over $261 million (about Rwf280 billion) was spent on the anti-malaria agenda, which consisted of different interventions such as monitoring various anti-malaria efforts, including the needed tools.

Malaria cases and deaths dropped during that period, she said, but the report showed that there are districts where cases increased, including Bugesera, Gisagara, and Nyagatare in 2021.

The target was to reach a malaria incidence of 199 per 1,000 people from 428 in 2017, a target that was far exceeded as it was reduced to 113 per 1,000 people in 2021. The Ministry of Health explained that the number of malaria cases reduced from 4.8 million in 2017 to less than one million in 2021. “That performance was achieved through various measures put in place to that end,” Uwamariya observed.

The measures included monitoring malaria patients at home (through community health workers), continuing to provide mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying in districts where malaria was prevalent, and offering free testing and treatment to patients from vulnerable families.