Eight Southern African Countries Collaborate on Malaria Eradication
Eight countries in southern Africa have pledged cross-border coordination of their malaria programs with the goal of eradication. The Elimination Eight (E8) initiative - which includes South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia - will establish malaria early warning and rapid response systems in those countries as well as "integrate existing policies from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Malaria Strategic Plan 2007-2015 into a coordinated approach," according to Inter Press Service (Van Den Bosch, IPS, 4/30). The group first met in March (Namibia Ministry of Health and Social Services press release, 3/09).
Officials believe that they can rid four of the countries - South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana - of malaria in seven years, while the other four countries in the group expect to see significant decreases in the number cases, responsible for 400,000 deaths in the region every year. IPS writes that WHO "has earmarked Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana as countries that are already close to eliminating the disease. But their efforts have been frustrated by incidences of re-infection from endemic countries on their northern borders, where malaria is rife." The partnership is key because malaria and the mosquitoes that carry the disease don't respect borders, according to Namibian Health Minister and E8 Chairman Richard Kamwi.
To prepare for the partnership, Namibia is conducting a survey of 3,000 households to map malaria in nine regions. The study should be completed by June, according to IPS. In the meantime, officials are hoping that programs to increase mosquito net use and efforts to lower the cost of malaria treatments can help curb the 20 million annual malaria cases in the region - which the SADC says accounts for 30% of outpatient care and 40% of inpatient care, according to IPS (Van Den Bosch, IPS, 4/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.