Presidents Corner


April 22 , 2010

A World Without Malaria


World Malaria Day reminds us all of the need to redouble our efforts to fight this predominantly African disease.  

Malaria
    Photo by Alexandra Seegers

 

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President Mans talks with Sirius XM Radio about Malaria in Africa.

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Malaria is robbing Africa of its future. It is the number one killer of children in Africa, having claimed almost one million young lives and about 10,000 mothers across the continent last year alone. It also has a heavy financial cost. Every year it consumes a major share of Africa’s spending on public health. It is estimated to cost the continent more than U.S. $12 billion in lost economic growth and the burden of malaria falls most heavily on the poor.

The good news is that there has been real progress in scaling up the fight against malaria.  Thanks to the efforts of many, funding has increased ten-fold over the last six years.  During that time, nearly a million lives have been saved. However, that funding is far below what is needed to reach the goal of ensuring prevention and treatment for all in Africa who need them.

To reach the goals set down in the Global Malaria Action Plan there needs to be a huge ramp up of quality affordable anti-malarial medicines and other essential supplies and services: insecticide-treated mosquito nets, rapid diagnostic tests, indoor spraying and preventive treatment for pregnant women. Africare’s contribution to the fight against malaria is being waged along exactly these lines in a number of countries in Africa and with some real success.  Africare has expertise in three proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures,
taking a community based approach in providing:

(1) Long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets;

(2) Intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women

(3) Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children under the age of five.

Malaria Net
Photo by Alexandra Seegers

In Benin for example, Africare’s support for the country’s malaria control program started with a successful advocacy process for the acceptance of community-based distribution of chloroquine. From 2004 to 2008 Africare implemented a community-based malaria control program with financing from the Global Fund that focused on children under 5 and pregnant women. Africare distributed more than 200,000 insecticide treated bednets and almost 80,000 doses of ACT. Now 57% of households in our project areas have mosquito nets treated with insecticides and 50% of pregnant women and children under five sleep under them.  This has been achieved by making appropriate treatment available at the community level through women’s groups who provided management of fever and community mobilization for uptake of prevention services, thus building local capacity to ensure sustainability.

As a result, there has been a reduction of 73% in the incidence of severe malaria in the areas where we are working, while at national level there has been an increase of 65%. There also has been a significant reduction of malaria-related mortality in children under the age of 5-- 84% in the intervention zones compared to only 18% at national level.

Because of this success, last month Africare received $31.5 million funding for the first three years of a six-year grant from the Global Fund to expand this program nationwide. This is but one example of the kind of work Africare does every day across Africa, including in Angola, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal as well as in Benin.

Next month I’d like to tell you about the work we are doing with orphans and vulnerable children across the African continent.

In the meantime, Pass it On!

 

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