Nations unite for World Malaria Day 2008
By Anwulika Okafor
NEW YORK, USA, 24 April 2008 – Ten years after UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and their partners launched the Roll Back Malaria initiative, malaria is still the single largest child killer in Africa. The disease takes the lives of some 3,000 children per day.
Of the more than 350 million people who are infected with malaria every year, 90 per cent live in sub-Saharan Africa. Work done by the Roll Back Malaria partners has brought millions of children and their families increased access to health and prevention tools, but the threat remains.
These partners, along with governments and public and private-sector organisations, will come together on 25 April, World Malaria Day 2008, in an effort ramp up global action to combat the disease.
‘Curable and preventable’
In malaria-endemic nations, governments spend as much as 40 per cent of their public health expenditures on malaria. This spending, which can be crippling to economic development, is still not enough to cover both treatment and prevention measures – including improved water and sanitation facilities, increased insecticide spraying and the mass distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).
“It is unacceptable that malaria still kills more than 1 million people, mostly children, every year,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Malaria is a curable and preventable disease that can be controlled by increasing the use of mosquito nets and other proven interventions as part of integrated, community-based programs.”
With the assistance of partners such as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department and the Government of Japan, UNICEF has become the largest procurer and distributor of ITNs, having provided more than 18 million nets is 2007. The nets drastically reduce malarial infections.
The Roll Back Malaria partners have also funded and participated in local and national health drives, spreading awareness about the importance of malaria prevention and early treatment. These efforts have gone a long way, but an increase in sustained funding is necessary to allow the partners to build on their success.
A disease without borders
Malaria is endemic in 107 countries and territories where 40 per cent of the world’s population lives. It is truly a disease without borders, the theme for World Malaria Day this year.
“In Ethiopia, 18 million long-lasting insecticidal nets that protect against malaria have been distributed since 2005, and in Kenya 10 million nets have been distributed in the past five years,” noted Ms. Veneman. “These successes show what can be achieved with concerted action. But with 800,000 African children dying from malaria every year, it is clear that much remains to be done.”
It will cost an estimated $3.2 billion to achieve global control of malaria. Through increased public and private commitments and partnerships, Roll Back Malaria has raised $1 billion so far.
Investments in malaria control would greatly assist endemic nations in reaching the Millennium Development Goals on extreme poverty and child mortality. Achieving these benchmarks and rolling back malaria, however, will require the commitment of the entire community of nations.
Malaria in Malaysia
Malaria is endemic in Malaysia. The Malaria Eradication Program was started in 1967 in Peninsular Malaysia. Since then and up to 1980, there was a reduction in the number of reported malaria cases from 160,385 in 1966 to 9,110 cases for Peninsular Malaysia.
In the 1980s, the concept of eradication changed to one of control. Additional supplementary activities such as the use of impregnated bednets, and the Primary Health Care approach were introduced in malarious and malaria-prone areas. Focal spraying activity is instituted in localities with outbreaks in both malaria-prone and non-malarious areas. Passive case detection has been maintained in all operational areas.
The problems faced in the prevention and control of malaria include problems associated with the opening of land for agriculture, mobility of the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia and inaccessibility of malaria problem areas.World Health Organisation (WHO) data for 2003 (Western Pacific Region Health Databank 2005 Revision):
World Malaria Day 2008
25 April 2008
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, UN Foundation President Tim Wirth, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Bishop Thomas Bickerton and Youth Service America President Steven Culbertson speak at a UN press conference on the fight against malaria.