Seven in every 10 Kenyans are at risk of catching malaria. Those who catch it are at the risk of becoming part of the 400,000 people in the world who die from malaria annually.
Most of these victims are babies and pregnant women from sub-Saharan Africa. Against this bleak backdrop, the recent announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Kenya will be one of the three African countries to participate in the new Mosquitrix malaria vaccination programme is welcome news.
But even as we await for trials of this vaccination programme, we should also look East and embrace the malaria medicine that has worked there for centuries.
Kenya stands to gain from powerful antimalarial Chinese drugs, thanks to a new partnership with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of the People’s Republic of China.
In a speech during the opening ceremony of China-Africa Symposium on Fast Elimination of Malaria through Source Eradication, Commissioner Wang Guoqiang from China affirmed the tried and tested nature of Chinese medicine, “Chinese medicine is a medical science that has been gradually developed and enriched through thousands of years of production.”
In 2015, Prof Tu Youyou from China won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology ‘for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.’ In her Nobel speech during the award ceremony, she talked about ‘the diligence and dedication of Chinese scientists during the search for antimalarial drugs from traditional Chinese medicine 40 years ago.’
Since the early seventies, she led a team of these scientists in digging into ancient Chinese malaria cures that spanned as far back as 770 BC.