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World Malaria Day - Scaling Up Efforts in Prevention

April 25, 2012

In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade but globally a child still dies every minute. It is critical to continue to invest in prevention and control measures across the continent to ensure that populations have access to cost-effective and life-saving interventions.

Speaking on World Malaria Day, April 25th, Plan West Africa’s Regional Director Adama Coulibaly said: “Over 90% of all deaths from malaria are in Africa. Just by scaling up efforts to prevent the disease, including universal coverage of mosquito nets, we will save the lives of an estimated three million African children by 2015.”

A preventable disease, malaria can be cured with prompt diagnosis and correct drug treatment but there is a double burden of increased drug resistance and limited access to health care in many of the most malaria-prone areas. Young children are the most vulnerable because they have not built up any immunity to the disease, and without immunity the infections tend to be more severe and life-threatening.

The most severe form of malaria - cerebral malaria - will cause convulsions, coma and death in 93% of children affected. The 7% who survive are left with permanent neurological problems such as epilepsy, blindness, weakness, speech problems and significant cognitive issues.

The impact of malaria on economic growth and development is immense, costing families businesses and nations dearly. Investing in malaria control has seen a strong return on investment with significantly reduced sickness and absenteeism.

In partnership with the Global Fund in many parts of West Africa, Plan is working in countries like Togo with local partners and child and youth groups to deliver long-lasting insecticide nets and raise awareness of malaria prevention and treatment.

In Liberia, Plan is working to scale up prompt and effective treatment with Artemisinin-based Combine Therapy (ACTs) to at least 80% of all those with malaria, and to improve knowledge and behavior on prevention and treatment of the condition, especially among pregnant women.

Over five million bed nets have also been distributed to communities across Cameroon. It’s estimated that when 80% of people sleep under a net, the entire community is protected and Plan aims to reach almost half of the country’s population in total this year.

In Burkina Faso, Plan has supported the distribution of 7.6 million long-lasting, insecticide-impregnated bed nets across the country, a ratio of one net for every two people.

Mr Coulibaly concluded: “Considerable progress has been made in the fight against malaria but there’s still much work to do to eradicate this disease in West African countries in order to give children, their families and their communities a fair chance at life.”

Learn more about Plan's work on malaria control.