A new UNICEF report says significant gains are being made in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The report says controlling the disease is vital to improving child health and economic development.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman unveiled the report entitled Malaria and Children.
“This fight is crucial for the well-being of children. Malaria kills around one-million people each year, 90 percent of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 800,000 of these are children under the age of five,” she says.
She says the Roll Back Malaria Campaign target is to have 80 percent of the people at risk from malaria protected by the year 2010. Veneman says the new report shows progress toward that goal is being made.
“It finds that global funding for malaria control has risen more than ten-fold over the past decade helping increase the production of long-lasting, insecticide treated nets from
30-million in 2004 to 63-million in 2006. And 16 of the 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa for which data is available have at least tripled their coverage of bed nets since 2000,” she says.
Better treatment is also more available.
Veneman says, “Nearly all African countries have now adopted the WHO (World Health Organization) recommended Artemisinin-based combination therapy or ACT. As a result, global ACT procurement grew from around three million doses in 2003 to some 100-million doses in 2006.”
Despite the progress, the UNICEF executive-director calls for expanding community-based health services and linking malaria treatment to treatment of other childhood diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition.
“The success detailed in the report demonstrates that progress can be made against malaria, and in a short period of time,” she says.
Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, who heads the five-year, $1.2 billion President‘s Malaria Initiative, says a combined effort is needed to roll back malaria. He outlines a three-part plan to do that.
“By coming together through effective partnership, not just talking about partnership, but doing it, which is much harder. By bringing more resources to the table. More than we have ever had before. So let’s celebrate that, but then hold each other accountable as we move forward. And then the third principle is a commitment to working together from a common plan based on the national requirements and the national context,” he says.
Admiral Ziemer says the tide against malaria can be turned, saying, “we know what to do, we know how to do it.”