African Countries Call for Increased Efforts To Combat Malaria Ahead of World Malaria Day
Several African countries ahead of World Malaria Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, called for stakeholders to increase efforts to address malaria and contribute to elimination of the disease, the Vanguard reports.
In Nigeria, Vanguard Media Limited, which publishes the Vanguard, announced plans to launch the Vanguard Public Forum on Malaria under the theme, "Winning the War Against Malaria." According to Gbenga Adefaye, Vanguard's editor-in-chief, the forum will bring together policymakers, service providers and community members to develop strategies to control malaria in Nigeria. Adefaye said World Malaria Day "offers a unique opportunity for us in Vanguard to help bring all stakeholders together to ensure that Nigeria does not lag behind in the global control effort." He added that malaria's "devastating impact both on our health and economy is significant enough for us to pay good attention to it and jointly map out a better way to control it." According to the Vanguard, the public forum will include a lecture on malaria in Nigeria, a keynote address by Nigerian Health Minister Babatunde Osotimehin, an overview of Nigeria's malaria program and a paper on the development of artemisinin-based combination therapies. In addition, the 10 Nigerian states with the most effective malaria control programs will receive recognition, and pharmaceutical companies will exhibit malaria drugs and other vector control products. The Vanguard also plans to publish a special supplement on malaria in its May 5 issue (Vanguard, 4/22).
Meanwhile, Dinis Sengulane, Anglican bishop and president of Roll Back Malaria in Mozambique, on Tuesday called for civil society to scale up efforts to control malaria in Mozambique, AIM/AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking during a press conference at the launch of a series of activities to mark World Malaria Day, Sengulane said that despite Mozambique's gains in malaria control, further efforts will be necessary to eliminate the disease. "Let us make every day of our lives a day of struggle against malaria, so that it ceases to be the main cause of mortality among children and adults," Sengulane said. He called for civil society groups to undertake efforts to control stagnant pools that serve as mosquito breeding sites. In addition, Sengulane encouraged people to seek immediate medical attention if they suspect they have contracted malaria and encouraged the public to use insecticide-treated nets to protect themselves and their family members against the disease. According to AIM/AllAfrica.com, RBM's Mozambique chapter during the last two years has distributed more than 200,000 ITNs to households identified as the most vulnerable groups by Mozambique's Ministry of Health (AIM/AllAfrica.com, 4/21).
In Ghana, representatives from the District Malaria Advocacy Teams gathered in the capital of Accra to discuss malaria control efforts at a forum ahead of World Malaria Day, the Ghanaian Chronicle reports. The forum, under the theme "District Leadership Involvement in Counting Malaria Out," included participants from 11 districts who met to review the performance of district-level leadership in supporting effective malaria prevention and treatment programs. The forum also aimed to identify ways in which malaria advocacy could build support for national control efforts. Elias Sory, director-general of the Ghana Health Service, while addressing the forum said that malaria is the leading cause of child mortality in Africa. "Malaria accounts for approximately 40% of public health expenditures in sub-Saharan Africa, 20% to 50% of inpatient admissions and up to 50% of outpatient visits in highly endemic areas," Sory said. She added that despite the economic challenges that malaria presents, scaling up cost-effective prevention and treatment tools could prevent malaria-associated morbidity and mortality and contribute to economic growth (Akuamoah, Ghanaian Chronicle, 4/21).
Editorial Calls for Efficient, Sustainable Malaria Control Strategies
Occasions such as World Malaria Day are "more than mere celebrations, they should be utilized in the most efficient way to develop sustainable measures that can finally roll back malaria," an editorial published in The Gambia's Daily Observer says. According to the editorial, "Science still has no magic bullet for malaria, and many doubt that such a single solution will ever exist." In addition, malaria parasites are developing "unacceptable levels" of drug resistance, and many insecticides are "no longer useful" against mosquitoes that transmit the disease, the editorial says. The editorial continues that the global health community must "expand the use of effective low-cost strategies" to control malaria, such as ITNs and effective medicines. ITN use "results in improvement in maternal health, infant health and survival," and "[p]rompt access to treatment with effective up-to-date medicine, such as artemisinin-based combination therapies, saves lives," the editorial says. Therefore, stakeholders should use the occasion of World Malaria Day to "contemplate on strategies that can permit us to apply these and other measures on a wider scale and monitor them, so that the burden of malaria will be significantly reduced." The editorial also urges health officials to promote public awareness of sanitation and environmental issues that contribute to malaria. It concludes by calling on stakeholders "to forge ahead in engendering sustainable programs that can ensure the elimination of malaria" (Daily Observer, 4/22).