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Ruhuha Malaria Elimination Project Gets Political Boost, Disseminates

With deep conviction that having a healthy population is key to national development, the local leadership in Rwanda’s Bugesera District, has pledged to give maximum support to the Malaria Elimination Program for Ruhuha (MEPR) research project.

Officiating at the start of a 3 day preliminary research findings dissemination on May 28, Bugesera District Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs Ms Prisilla Uwirigate (on right side in picture below) assured the study team of total cooperation from the area leadership.

“We are going to work with you to bring this project to fruition. Our people’s health is central to development and that is why we need to wipe out malaria from our area,” she said through an interpreter.

Ms Uwirigate observed that the progress of the project looked good and asked the study team to consider promoting the intervention and eventual findings in areas outside the district and to next door in Burundi.

MEPR is a four component study project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific  Research  and aims at empowering communities towards eliminating malaria in the Ruhuha Sector of Bugesera District. The four components include Behaviour Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Medical Entomology and Health Economics and financing through which approaches have been designed to achieve the project objective.

The preliminary results from a baseline survey conducted in late 2013 show a wide range of challenges from improper use of bed nets, ignorance on vector control measures to misconceptions about good interventions.

However, study team Co-Investigator Dr Stephen Rulisa notes while it was initially hard for communities to appreciate that they played a big role for their current predicament, they now appreciate that “this (malaria burden) is their problem and they have a very big role to play as far as eliminating it is concerned.”

According to one of the project Principal Investigators of the project, Dr Leon Mutesa (above left) , four PhD students are each leading a component to answer the question: How can a community contribute to the malaria control program towards its elimination?

“With the findings from their respective components, we hope the study will be able to inform the implementation of Rwanda’s malaria strategic plan of 2013-2018 which targets malaria pre-elimination  levels of transmission by 2018,” Dr Mutesa noted.

He further observed that transitioning from malaria control to elimination requires changes of strategy including re-organizing health care delivery, targeted allocation of intervention, engagement of communities, strengthening technical capacity.

*For more on the preliminary findings from each of the four components watch out for our 4 part series “Rwanda Dissemination” stating June 2, 2014.


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