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Notice to Readers: Africa Malaria Day --- April 25, 2006

Approximately 90% of the estimated 1 million deaths caused by malaria each year occur in Africa, where every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria (1). To confront this public health problem, on April 25, 2000, government leaders from 44 African countries met in Abuja, Nigeria, and signed the Abuja Declaration, committing their countries to decreasing malaria deaths in Africa by 50% by 2010 (2). This event has been commemorated every year since on Africa Malaria Day.*

This year's theme, Universal Access to Effective Malaria Treatment Is a Human Right, and the associated slogan, Get your ACT Together!, underscore the importance of ensuring access to artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT). Because chloroquine is no longer effective in Africa and resistance is increasing to other first-line antimalarials, the World Health Organization has recommended a change to ACTs, and many African countries now recommend first-line use of ACT, a more expensive, but more effective drug regimen (3).

Africa Malaria Day also is an occasion to recognize renewed global commitment to the fight against malaria. On Africa Malaria Day in 2005, the World Bank pledged $500 million to $1 billion over the next 5 years to its Global Strategy and Booster Program for Malaria Control to strengthen program design and implementation, increase intervention coverage, and improve outcomes. Antimalaria projects have been approved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Niger, and Zambia, and preparations are under way in nine additional countries.

In May 2005, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), an international nonprofit organization, partnered with Zambia to promote rapid scale-up of malaria interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. The Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, consisting of PATH, the Government of Zambia, and other local and global partners, is working to increase malaria prevention and control and assess the impact on morbidity and mortality of major interventions, including case management, personal protection with insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), and prevention of malaria during pregnancy. Before and during the recent transmission season, the Zambian government distributed approximately 500,000 ITNs and retreatment kits, extended IRS to eligible households in 15 districts, and extended ACT coverage to all district health facilities.

On June 30, 2005, the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) pledged $1.2 billion over the next 5 years to support malaria prevention and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. PMI's goal is to reduce malaria deaths by 50% in each of the target countries after 3 years of full implementation. In December 2005 and January 2006, the United States, in partnership with ministries of health, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and private industries, launched PMI in the first three target countries (Angola, Tanzania, and Uganda) with distribution of more than 300,000 ITNs and IRS of 100,000 homes. PMI plans to ultimately reach 175 million people in up to 15 or more African countries most affected by malaria. PMI activities are integrated with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which has more than $1 billion for malaria interventions.

References

  1. Bryce J, Boschi-Pinto C, Shibuya K, Black RE, WHO Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group. WHO estimates of the causes of death in children. Lancet 2005;365:1147--52.
  2. Roll Back Malaria Partnership, World Health Organization. The Abuja Declaration and the plan of action. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2000. Available at http://www.rbm.who.int/docs/abuja_declaration.pdf.
  3. World Health Organization. Facts on ACTS. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2005. Available at http://www.rbm.who.int/cmc_upload/0/000/015/364/RBMInfosheet_9.htm.

* Available at http://www.rbm.who.int/cgi-bin/rbm/rbmportal/custom/rbm/home.do.

Available at http://www.fightingmalaria.gov/index.html.

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Date last reviewed: 4/20/2006

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