- Posted April 2, 2014 by
AFRICA: We must continue fight to end preventable malaria deaths, says charity
As World Malaria Day approaches on 25th April, Plan reiterates the need for continued financial efforts in Africa to help at-risk populations, in particular children aged under five and pregnant women, get access to prevention and treatment for malaria.
Cases of malaria are falling, with impregnated nets a proven way to prevent the disease, which is caused by the Plasmodium parasite and spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes.
The charity has distributed over 12 million bed nets in Burkina Faso and Cameroon over the last three years. In 2012, Plan was part of the distribution of 7.6 million sustainable nets across Burkina Faso, meaning a net for every two people.
Mariam Ouédraogo, 20, mother of three year old Rachidatu, and six months pregnant, says: "I received my mosquito net in August 2013. Since then I have seen a big difference, because before I could not even sleep because of the mosquitoes. But now the mosquitoes don’t bite me because I sleep under a mosquito net.
“Before I received the net, I got sick of malaria. I had a fever, and I was so cold, with a headache. My joints hurt and I could not go out and cultivate the field. I went to the hospital and I was prescribed medication that I bought to treat myself. But now I sleep under a mosquito net, everything is so much better.”
Fatbinta Sawadogo, 30, adds: “I have four children, boys aged 10, seven and five, and a girl who was just born. Before I received my mosquito net, every winter, I fell ill with malaria and it prevented me from working. I was a regular at the clinic but since I got the net it is much better.”
Malaria has declined over the last 10 years in all regions of the world, with more than one million lives saved thanks to the effects of impregnated nets and the development of rapid diagnostic tests and effective treatments for pregnant women and children under five.
Globally an estimated 660,000 people die from malaria each year, mostly in Africa, with 90% of cases and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
A child dies from the disease every 60 seconds and 7% of children who survive are left with permanent neurological conditions such as blindness and epilepsy.
In addition to the human suffering caused by the disease, malaria accounts for up to 40% of public health spending in sub-Saharan Africa, and impedes socio-economic development in many countries where it is endemic.
There are four types of human malaria: Plasmodium vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. falciparum. P. vivax and P. falciparum are the most common forms. Falciparum malaria - the most deadly type - is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, where it causes nearly a million deaths a year.
Plan’s distribution of nets was carried out by a network of community health workers who visited families to teach them how malaria is transmitted, how to install a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide and how to effectively protect or treat malaria.
In 2012, in West Africa, Plan contributed to the training and refresher courses of 27,900 workers and 3,800 community health professionals in the fight against malaria.
“We mustn’t spoil the considerable progress that has been made in recent years in the fight against malaria and we must find new funding mechanisms if we want to avoid both the resurgence of the disease and help save the lives of three million African children by 2015,” said Adama Coulibaly, Regional Director of Plan in West Africa.