1 in 5 deaths of children below 5 in Kenya is caused by Malaria

By Lydia Gichuki

One in every five deaths of Kenyan children below the age of five is caused by malaria a disease that is deadly yet effectively preventable and treatable. Each minute, a child dies of Malaria which translates to 1,300 children dying every day.

Kenya still suffers an estimated 3.5 million new clinical cases and over 10,000 deaths each year. Every 7 seconds a new malaria case is reported in Kenya.

Due to altitude, rainfall patterns and temperature, about 70 percent of the Kenyan population or 39 million people are at perpetual risk of malaria.

Globally, in 2020 an estimated 241 million new cases and 627,000 malaria-related deaths in 85 countries were reported. According to World Health Organization, WHO, more than two-thirds of malaria deaths in 2020 were among children under the age of 5 living in the African Region.

According to World Malaria report 2020, African region carries a 95 per cent of global malaria burden and 96 per cent of the deaths. Children under five years counted for about 80 per cent of malaria deaths in the region.

In 2021,288 million cases of malaria cases were reported worldwide with 95 percent occurring in Africa.

As Kenya joined the world in celebration of World Malaria Day yesterday, it has made strides in the fight against the disease which poses a great burden to the country.

In 10 years, malaria prevalence has reduced by 50 percent in the high-burden lake-endemic area, from 38 to 19 per cent.  Additionally, Kenya has reduced the prevalence of malaria by half from 11 per cent in 2010 to six per cent in 2020.

This year’s world malaria day has been marked under the theme “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.”

In this, WHO is calling for investments and innovation that bring new vector control approaches, diagnostics, antimalarial medicines and other tools to speed the pace of progress against malaria.

Towards this end, President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2020 launched the ‘Zero Malaria starts with me’ campaign, which is a Pan-African movement to strengthen local, national and regional efforts towards a malaria free Africa.

Further,  in 2019,Kenya adopted a the first ever malaria vaccine, RTS,S vaccine, recommended by WHO and was  piloted  in 26 sub-counties in the eight malaria-endemic counties of Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega.

The vaccine targets children between six months to 14 years and so far 900,000 doses have been administered. Of this, 275,000 children have received at least one out of the four scheduled doses of the vaccine while 45,000 have received the full course of four doses of the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization, this vaccine is one of the successful innovations which has saved over one million children in Africa where malaria is a major threat to children.


Currently, at least 600 Kenyan children are taking part in the trial of a new malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M vaccine, in this financial year.  The vaccine is 77 per cent effective, compared to about 30 per cent efficacy of the RTS,S vaccine already in use in Kenya.

The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India and is currently the most promising malaria vaccine.

 To strengthen its fight against malaria, Kenya has also championed the innovation and development of rapid malaria diagnostic test kits, which were launched in February this year. The kits were developed by a team of researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

This financial year the government has allocated Sh16.2billion for malaria, Aids and tuberculosis.

Photo Credit; FotoshopTofs ( pixabay)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *