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Tanzania, United Republic of

In Tanzania, the Island of Zanzibar leads the charge against malaria

© UNICEF/NYHQ1996-1372/Pirozzi
In this 1996 photo from Kidoti village in Zanzibar, a health worker tests a sample for malaria at a health post. Malaria has since been reduced to a prevalence rate of just 1 per cent there.

World Malaria Day, 25 April, focused this year on the challenge of achieving universal coverage with essential malaria-control interventions. Here is a story of progress and challenges in Tanzania.

ZANZIBAR CITY, Tanzania, 27 April 2010 – As the world celebrated World Malaria Day this past weekend, some regions reflected on recent strides made toward eradicating the disease. Among the world’s malaria success stories is the Island of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, off the coast of eastern Africa.

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Malaria was once a leading child killer throughout Tanzania. As in many countries across Africa, it kept clinics and hospitals full, kept sick children out of school and was a major cause of lost productivity among adults.

But over the past 10 years, health authorities in Zanzibar have reduced the region’s malaria prevalence to just 1 per cent. UNICEF Radio spoke with Dr. Abdulai Tinorgah, UNICEF Tanzania's Chief of Child Survival and Development, to learn more about Zanzibar’s success in malaria prevention.

A multi-strategy approach

There are many reasons for Zanzibar’s success, said Dr. Tinorgah. Most importantly, however, was that the region tackled malaria from many angles – using several strategies at once.

© UNICEF/NYHQ1996-1474/Pirozzi
In this 1996 photo from Kidoti village in Zanzibar, a health worker helps treat a sick three-year-old with anti-malaria pills.

"They used insecticide-treated bed nets [and] spraying of insecticide in houses," said Dr. Tinorgah. "They scaled up access to correct treatment together with simple tests for diagnosing malaria, and they also scaled up preventive treatment during pregnancy."

Despite this innovative approach and exceptional progress made, challenges remain in preventing malaria in Zanzibar.

Sustaining Zanzibar’s success

In order to maintain the strides made to date, Dr. Tinorgah said that a long-term sustained commitment is needed – including by government, funders and donors. If the current level of funding is not sustained, Zanzibar risks the return of a major malaria epidemic.

"It's important for us to make progress, that we have engagement at the highest levels of commitment to deal with this issue," said Dr. Tinorgah.

On World Malaria Day, high-ranking officials, including the President of Tanzania, participated in the country’s celebrations. Zanzibar was spotlighted as a region that has made great progress – and to which the rest of the country must catch up.




26 April 2010: UNICEF Radio speaks with Abdulai Tinorgah, UNICEF Tanzania's Chief of Child Survival and Development, about the successes of malaria-reduction efforts in Zanzibar.
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