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CDC Activities in Kenya

A pregnant woman receives a treated mosquito net during the Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy Trial in Kenya’s Siaya District Hospital.

A pregnant woman receives a treated mosquito net during the Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy Trial in Kenya’s Siaya District Hospital.

In Kenya, there are an estimated 6.7 million new clinical cases and 4,000 deaths each year, and those living in Western Kenya have an especially high risk of malaria. As it does in many countries around the world, CDC has worked closely with the Kenya Ministry of Health to fight malaria. CDC’s efforts in Kenya are also supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative.

Over three decades ago, CDC established a collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), which is part of Kenya’s Ministry of Health. Led by the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, CDC’s malaria work in Kenya includes

  • Capacity building and technical support
  • Surveillance, monitoring and evaluation
  • Prevention
  • Case management
  • Transmission reduction
  • Laboratory

Capacity building and technical support

Throughout the world, CDC works with Ministries of Health to build capacity and to offer technical support to protect the public’s health. In Kenya, CDC provides onsite technical assistance and funding for malaria research. Over the past three decades, CDC’s investment in Kenya has resulted in a well-trained staff of Kenyan scientists, clinicians, laboratory technicians, and field workers. This achievement is due to CDC’s subject matter experts who serve as advisors for degree-seeking Kenyan students, providing regular trainings and seminars. Technology transfer from CDC to KEMRI has also played an important role. CDC has provided KEMRI with key technological resources that now allow work to be performed locally, which was not possible in the past.

Surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation

CDC and KEMRI work together to conduct health facility surveillance. This surveillance activity involves documenting infections discovered during hospital or health center admission. CDC and KEMRI also measure the burden of malaria at a community level by conducting surveys to measure the percentage of people infected with malaria in the community. Both of these surveillance activities allow the Kenya Ministry of Health to monitor progress in their implementation of malaria control strategies. Vector and insecticide resistance surveillance is also conducted to better understand how mosquitoes interact with malaria parasites and to measure effectiveness of indoor residual spray and long lasting insecticide-treated nets. Lastly, surveillance of deaths using the verbal autopsy method is supported in order to assess the impact of malaria intervention scale-up on malaria-associated mortality over time.



Vaccines are critical to reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. CDC works closely with KEMRI in both areas. CDC, KEMRI, and other partners are conducting a phase III trial on an experimental malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01 vaccine candidate). The study tests findings from Mozambique and other countries showing that a similar vaccine reduced the frequency of clinical and severe malaria in young children. Sites include three locations in Kenya and six locations in other sub-Saharan African countries. One of the three research sites in Kenya is led by CDC’s collaboration with KEMRI in Nyanza Province, western Kenya, where 1,620 children have been enrolled. Other sites in Kenya include the KEMRI/Walter Reed Program, also in Nyanza, and the KEMRI/Wellcome Trust in Kilifi.

Vector Control

Vector control is one of the interventions CDC and other global partners use to control malaria. Current activities include

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of different types of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets against malaria vectors (anopheline mosquitoes)
  • Evaluating integrated vector control strategies (long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and larviciding)

Prevention in Pregnancy

Collaborating with the Global Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium, CDC works with KEMRI to control malaria by

  • Assessment of the effectiveness of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy
  • Evaluation of new drugs and strategies for prevention of malaria in pregnancy, including women who are living with HIV
  • Evaluation of health systems and sociocultural obstacles to improve uptake of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy

Case Management

Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) are the standard treatments for malaria across Africa. It is important to monitor the efficacy of ACTs and to test new therapies. Continued monitoring will provide information that can be used to make decisions about changes to national policy if drug resistance develops. CDC, in partnership with KEMRI, has been performing drug efficacy studies for this purpose since 2007.

ACTs are not recommended for use in the first trimester of pregnancy due to lack of safety data. Thus, CDC and KEMRI are developing and validating a pharmacovigilance system for monitoring the safety of antimalarial drugs during pregnancy. A study was conducted to assess health-care workers’ and drug vendors’ knowledge of and adherence to treatment guidelines for malaria in pregnancy.

In 2014, with partners from the Malaria Elimination Consortium of Western Kenya, CDC and KEMRI plan to conduct drug dosing and safety studies for low-dose primaquine and high-dose ivermectin as novel tools for malaria transmission reduction strategies (e.g., mass screen and treat or mass drug administration) when provided in combination with ACTs.

Transmission reduction

CDC is a member of the Global Malaria Transmission Consortium. The Consortium’s initial focus was identifying the best way of measuring malaria transition. This research has included investigating indoor residual spraying and durable wall liners. Preliminary results indicate that indoor residual spraying is a valuable tool to fight malaria in selected areas where transmission is high. Durable wall liners are effective at reducing transmission in the first six months and the Consortium is still monitoring to determine long-term effectiveness. In 2013, CDC and KEMRI, with other founding members of the Malaria Elimination Consortium of Western Kenya , started large-scale malaria control activities aimed at interrupting malaria transmission in Western Kenya. The first activity is a multiyear intermittent mass screen and treat study targeting nearly 30,000 people. Mass drug administration will be evaluated starting late 2014 or early 2015.


KEMRI has state-of-the-art malaria laboratories that can support epidemiologic studies and conduct research on

  • The immunology of malaria in children and pregnant women
  • Parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs
  • Host genetic risk factors for severe malaria

KEMRI’s and CDC’s Atlanta-based laboratory staff collaborate regularly to evaluate substandard antimalarial drug use in the community and conduct pharmacokinetic studies of antimalarials.

To learn more about activities in Kenya, follow CDC Kenya on Twitter: @CDCKenya or visit the CDC Kenya Web page. For more information about malaria, visit: