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Malaria Still a Major Killer in Africa

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  • pbs@iafrica.com
    From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org [Major diseases, which were almost eradicated, or under control during the days of Colonial rule have come back to slaughter Blacks
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2005
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      From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org
      [Major diseases, which were almost eradicated, or under control during
      the days of Colonial rule have come back to slaughter Blacks across
      Africa. Jan]

      Despite the promising advances made in the prevention and treatment of
      malaria around the world, the disease continues to represent a major
      challenge in Africa, where the overwhelming majority of deaths now take

      The 2005 World Malaria Report, released Tuesday by the World Health
      Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), notes
      that the efforts made in recent years have begun to bear fruit.

      Asia and Africa have experienced a 20 percent decrease in the incidence
      of the disease in the last five years, noted Allan Schapira, coordinator
      of the policy and strategy team of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM)

      Yet Africa continues to bear the brunt of the malaria burden worldwide.
      According to statistics compiled by M�dicins Sans Fronti�res, of the
      roughly two million people who die of malaria every year, 90 percent are
      African children under the age of five. The disease claims some 3,000
      lives every day in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

      The incidence of malaria rose in Africa during the 1980s and 1990s as a
      result of increased resistance to the most commonly used medicines to
      treat it and to the insecticides used to kill the mosquitoes that spread
      it. These decades also witnessed a deterioration in the provision of
      health care services in the region.

      Between 350 and 500 million people around the world contract malaria
      every year. Over 41 percent of the world's population -- some 3.2 billion
      people living in 107 countries -- face the risk of infection.

      The Roll Back Malaria Global Partnership was launched in 1998 by WHO,
      UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World
      Bank. Its goal is to halve the burden of the disease by 2010.

      The fight against malaria requires ongoing and significant sources of
      funding. An estimated 3.2 billion dollars annually are needed to confront
      the disease in the 82 countries where the majority of malaria deaths take

      Jon Liden, head of communications at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
      Tuberculosis and Malaria, told IPS that his agency will contribute one
      billion dollars to anti-malaria efforts over the next two years.

      The Fund allocates 55 percent of the total available financial resources
      to the fight against HIV/AIDS, 13 percent to tuberculosis, and over
      one-third to efforts to combat malaria.

      The disease costs Africa an estimated 12 billion dollars in gross
      domestic product (GDP) annually, and increases poverty by reducing
      productivity and social stability, said Liden.

      Nevertheless, he said he was hopeful about the possibility of defeating
      the disease thanks to the emergence of new prevention and treatment

      Chloroquine, formerly the most widely used and economical antimalarial
      drug, is no longer effective in most of the world because of the
      resistance to it that has developed. In its place, new artemisinin-based
      combination therapies have proven effective in saving lives, although
      they are considerably more costly.

      Another successful initiative has been the distribution of
      insecticide-treated mosquito nets, a highly effective means of preventing
      the disease.

      The agencies that make up the RBM partnership maintain that the price of
      artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which ranges between 75
      cents and 2.75 dollars per treatment, is prohibitive for many of the
      neediest families.

      But for its part, M�dicins Sans Fronti�res (MSF) states that treatment
      with ACT takes just three days and costs "as little as" 60 cents for a
      child and two dollars for an adult.

      The effectiveness of these new treatments was demonstrated in a high
      transmission area in Angola, where hospital admissions for severe malaria
      were reduced by 25 percent in the year following the introduction of ACT.
      Over the same period, mortality decreased by 75 percent in comparison
      with the previous year, the group noted.

      In the face of this evidence, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have
      changed their national treatment policies and switched from older,
      inadequate treatments to ACT-based therapy.

      But the problem is still far from being solved, according to MSF, because
      effective diagnosis and treatment are still available to only a tiny
      proportion of those in need.

      For MSF, the major problems in tackling malaria are not technical,
      medical or scientific, because it is completely feasible to produce and
      distribute enough ACTs for the treatment to reach all of the people in
      need. However, this will only happen if there is urgent and sufficient
      political action, the group maintains.

      For their part, the U.N. agencies involved in the RBM initiative
      acknowledge that a lack of funds and national capacity to effectively
      carry out anti-malaria programmes are two major obstacles to the global
      implementation of prevention and treatment measures.

      Source: AllAfrica.Com
      URL: http://allafrica.com/stories/200505040002.html
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