Near zero malaria deaths achievable by 2015: Innovation, partnership and resource mobilization key
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 25 April 2011 – Curbing malaria is essential to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing child mortality. Based on its success thus far, the Roll Back Malaria partnership has set a target of achieving near zero malaria deaths by 2015, thus exceeding the MDG targets.
“This is entirely possible,” explained Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, the global framework for coordinated action against the disease. Dr. Coll-Seck spoke at a global malaria conference in Oslo, Norway, that took place on 12 April 2011. “Achieving near zero deaths will require stronger country ownership and adequate global support. Intensified and sustained malaria control will contribute to the achievement of six of the eight Millennium Development Goals,” she added.
In the last decade, one third of 106 malaria endemic countries have seen a 50% decrease in malaria cases where comprehensive interventions have been carried out. Nevertheless, more than three billion people, half of humanity, are still affected by the disease, which is fully preventable and treatable.
Malaria is a global health emergency. Nearly 800 000 people die of malaria every year, most of them children under the age of five. The disease perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty in the developing world and affects mostly poor women and children. Malaria-related illnesses and mortality cost Africa's economy alone US$ 12 billion per year, and consume as much as 40 per cent of public health expenditure in countries where the disease is endemic.
Comprehensive interventions have proven to reduce the number of malaria cases. In the last decade, 289 million mosquito nets have been delivered to sub-Saharan Africa, enough to cover 76 per cent of the at risk population. Ensuring proper use of the mosquito nets is equally important.
“We have found that the key to decreasing malaria cases is the follow up of the households after the distribution of the mosquito nets, to ensure they are being used properly,” said a Red Cross representative speaking at the Oslo conference.
Additionally, diagnostic testing has become more accessible. More than a third of malaria cases reported from the public sector in Africa in 2009 had been confirmed with a diagnostic test, compared to less than 5 per cent at the beginning of the decade.
This article is in part based on a report from the Oslo malaria conference, which took place on 12 April 2011. More than 200 technical experts and public officials participated in the conference, which aimed to provide advice to policy makers on how to near eradicate malaria by 2015.
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