Better access to malaria treatment in Rwanda

Better access to malaria treatment in Rwanda

Muabano Sergatin and her husband Ntahurusha Innocent lost their three year old daughter Beata Mushimana to malaria in 2002. Her family had just returned to their village of Gitega in Kibilizi District after a long period of refuge in Burundi.

The night of their return, their child developed a high fever and the family scrambled to collect money so they could take her to the health centre which is about 40 minutes away by foot. Time ran out and the child died in their small home, two days after developing the fever.

Malaria is a daily problem in Gitega. In April this year, Ntahurusha Innocent returned home from a day working in the fields and noticed that his two year old daughter Naminaho Viteur was not eating well and had a fever. First thing in the morning, his wife brought the child to Claudine a local distributor trained to administer anti-malarials to children with uncomplicated fever. The child was treated and fully recovered within a few days. Only a week ago, Ntahurusha Innocent’s other child Iradukunda Yollande was also treated.
Innocent said that there were significant benefits from the distributor programme, which was pioneered by Concern in January 2005. Under this programme health assistants are trained and supervised to treat simple malaria and to refer more complicated cases. “In the past, we would need 200 Rwandan francs (Rfw) for blood smear and 800 Rfw for drugs…It would take me about a week to get this much money. [With the distributor programme] I only need 50 Rfw to be treated here at home. Recovery is faster when we go to the distributor.”

Innocent is now saving money to buy mosquito nets, but they are expensive (3,000 Rfw). He’s a sharecropper, growing onions, tomatoes and corn, paying for the land that he cultivates. His last harvest of tomatoes was bad and his corn was stolen. “Even when I have money there are many problems in the family so I must decide how to spend the little money I have.”

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