News reports yesterday from Kenya’s government announced that, “Kenya needs 113 million dollars to combat malaria.” Ministry officials mentioned Kenya’s successes in saving children’s using ITNs, which were heavily publicized by WHO’s Global Malaria Program last year as a justification for increasing distribution of free nets. The officials also addressed upcoming programs including targeted indoor residual spraying and the need for more ACTs to treat the disease.
What was missing from their published statement was any time frame for the use of this $113 million or acknowledgment that Kenya already is receiving funds from the Global Fund and the US President’s Malaria Initiative. While donors are becoming more generous today, we never know tomorrow.
While more money helps, it is not the only answer. Recently Kenya has been having trouble attracting more Global Fund money because of some performance problems in its existing grants. Kenya has also been undergoing serious political and social upheaval that has resulted in displaced people who are more at risk of infectious diseases like malaria and in disrupted supply delivery of essential malaria commodities. A stable government and a functional health system are possibly more important to controlling malaria than the actual cash flows from donors.
Kenya will soon be in the process of preparing for a new Global Fund Round 8 Proposal for malaria funding. We hope that government officials, local NGOs and the affected communities can work together to come up with a plan that recognizes the solution to any country’s malaria problem is not to be forever dependent on donor handouts but addresses the economic and social disparities in a country that make people vulnerable to malaria.