Health minister Dr Sabin Nsanzimana has refuted the claims that asylum seekers coming to Rwanda from the United Kingdom (UK) are at risk of “a deadly malaria variant,” and that the country cannot afford curative or preventive healthcare for them.
The claims were published on April 21 in The Guardian, a UK news media, in an opinion piece by Prof Elspeth Webb, who said she worked as a pediatrician in Kenya.
She claimed that Rwanda has the high malaria transmission of the most deadly malaria variant, in all areas, in all seasons, yet “Rwanda can’t even meet the healthcare needs of its own citizens” including preventive antimalarial like insecticide-containing nets, and quick curative antimalarial.
In a letter that Dr Nsanzimana wrote, in response, published in The Guardian on Thursday, April 27, he noted that Prof Webb’s assessment of the risk of malaria to those coming to Rwanda is exaggerated.
“Rwanda has a comprehensive and extraordinarily effective malaria-prevention and response programme, which has achieved one of the fastest-recorded decelerations in malaria transmission in history: severe cases dropped from 13,844 to 1,831 between 2016 and 2022. This is an almost 87% reduction of cases,” Nsanzimana wrote.
He added that every resident of Rwanda is within 1km of a community case-management-system centre, which means that 70% of malaria diagnosis and treatment is provided rapidly at the community level. New Times noted.
Everyone living in Rwanda, including asylum seekers, has full access to this healthcare, and to preventive and curative antimalarial.
“Indeed, Rwanda’s malaria response has been so exemplary that the World Health Organization, in its World Malaria Report 2022, highlighted Rwanda as one of only eight countries in Africa on track to achieve the target for reducing the incidence of malaria set in the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030,” he concluded.