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Malaria campaign takes new turn

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mosquitoThis year’s World Malaria Day, which fell on Thursday, April 25, took  a unique turn with the launch of a three-year campaign on the theme: “Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria.”

The campaign, which seeks to improve on the achievements of the “Roll Back Malaria”(RBM), is to help strengthen political will and generate the needed funding to continue averting deaths in malaria-endemic countries.

A statement signed by Executive Secretary of  the Africa Media and Malaria Research Network  (AMMREN),  Mrs Charity Binka, and copied the Ghana news Agency (GNA), said RBM was “mapping progress against key milestones on the road to 2015 and show how the collective efforts of the global malaria community contribute to create a healthier and more prosperous world,

AMMREN, a Network with membership from 10 African countries, engaged in malaria control advocacy, believes the global malaria community was doing the right thing by taking stock of the promises and realities of ending malaria deaths at the targeted date of 2015.

It was of the view that many African countries missed the 2010 Abuja targets to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by half and that with less than two years to meeting the 2015 targets of further reduction of 75 per cent in morbidity and 50 per cent reduction in mortality, countries were now scaling up efforts to at least sustain the modest gains made over the last decade.

“AMMREN joins the world to mark this year’s World Malaria Day, and the Network is of the view that the gains made in malaria control are fragile and could easily be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers, donors and the communities”.

This, the network said was because the efforts and resources that would be invested in control efforts over the next years would impact on whether or not the malaria map was shrinking or be expanded by the malaria parasites.

While commending governments, donors, health officials and other key players for efforts made in the past decade to bring down malaria morbidity and mortality figures, AMMREN said the widespread negative practice of  treating malaria without diagnosis was likely to hinder the acceleration of the control efforts.

According to the WHO, over 80 per cent of cases of malaria were still being treated without diagnostic testing in many malaria-endemic countries in Africa.

According to the world body, the universal diagnostic testing would ensure that patients with fever receive the most appropriate treatment, and that anti-malarial medicines were used rationally and correctly.

AMMREN, therefore, called for the scaling up of diagnosis before treatment and a massive deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to ensure that appropriately diagnosed cases were treated promptly and correctly.

The network said some African countries had made significant gains in that regard and noted that “WHO indicates that 60 African governments are providing ACTs free of charge to all age groups as at 2010”.

“AMMREN is of the view that there must be a scaling up of the efforts so that millions of Africans who still lack ready access to appropriate treatment will be covered to ensure that every confirmed malaria case gets treated”.

The Network also asked for a focused attention on preventive activities through the use of treated bed nets since prevention was the best option in the fight against malaria.

“The higher the number of people using bed nets, the bigger the rate of reduction in malaria cases” it said.

The statement said AMMREN shared in the optimism of African scientists, the donor community and stakeholders, that malaria could be pushed out of Africa in the century.

However, the Network said the optimism must be measured against promises made about 13 years ago, when 40 African Heads of State made a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria, to reduce the malaria burden on the continent by setting targets.

“Kicking out malaria from Africa is a responsibility of governments, organisations, communities and individuals. April 25 should be seen as a day of renewal of commitment to work towards a malaria free society”.

Source: GNA

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