Date Published: 25 April 2007
Malaria control essential to save African children's lives (UNICEF)
On Africa Malaria Day, UNICEF called for greater efforts to combat one of the biggest killers of children in Africa.
Of the more than one million deaths due to malaria each year, more than 80% are in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease accounts for 18% of the continent’s under age five deaths. Those who survive are often left debilitated, unable to fulfil their potential to learn in school or to earn in later life.
“ Every 30 seconds, an African child dies from malaria despite it being a curable and preventable disease.” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.
“ The proper use of a $10 bed net has been shown to reduce under-five mortality from all causes by up to 25%.”
There was a ten-fold increase in the distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) between 1999 and 2003 in sub-Saharan Africa. Surveys conducted in 2005 and 2006 are expected to show more major increases in the region.
A number of African countries are leading the way. Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Zambia have made progress towards the target of 60% insecticide-treated net coverage set at the 2000 African Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Abuja, Nigeria.
Ethiopia, a country with around 9 million malaria infections each year, increased the number of insecticide-treated nets distributed from 1.8 million in 2004 to 8 million by the end of 2006. The Government, UNICEF and other partners are now aiming for a total of 20 million nets by the end of this year.
“ We can help to control malaria through integrated, community-based health programmes,” said Veneman.
“ Malaria control is important to help African countries meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”
Funding for insecticide-treated nets, and for malaria testing and treatment have significantly increased over the past decade, thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US President’s Malaria Initiative, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.