We Canít Give Up on Financial Efforts to Save the Lives of 3 Million Children in Africa by 2015
On the occasion of World Malaria Day, 25th April, Plan reiterates the need to continue financial efforts in Africa which provide all at-risk populations, especially children under five and pregnant women, access to prevention and treatment to more effectively control the disease.
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 both prevention work and the development of rapid diagnostic tests and effective treatments for pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. But with 216 million malaria cases in 2010 and 655,000 deaths, malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases in the world with 90 percent of cases and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. A child dies from the disease every 60 seconds. Seven percent of children who survive are left with permanent neurological conditions.
In addition to the human suffering caused by the disease, malaria accounts for up to 40 percent of public health spending in sub-Saharan Africa and impedes socio-economic development in many endemic countries.
Working to Prevent and Raise Awareness for the Most Affected
Malaria is preventable and can be cured if diagnosed early and treated effectively. However, in many areas where malaria is particularly prevalent, people have limited access to health facilities.
In partnership with the Global Fund, Plan works in several countries in West Africa to fight against malaria; distributing bed nets and educating people on ways to prevent and treat the disease. Between the years of 2005 and 2012, Plan is estimated to have contributed to the 60 percent average reduction of deaths of children aged between 0 and 5 due to malaria.
In Burkina Faso, Plan was part of the distribution of 7.6 million sustainable nets across the country. In Cameroon, 5 million bed nets were distributed. Prior to September 2011, 67 percent of households in Cameroon did not own a long life impregnated net.
To fight against this, Plan formed a network of community health workers to carry out visits to families and teach them, in layman’s terms, how malaria is transmitted, how to install a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide, and how to effectively protect or treat malaria. In 2011, 15,000 home visits were made.
Plan’s communication approach is based on the respect and appreciation of positive local knowledge and practices for the improvement of maternal and child health. These are consensual approaches built on exchange and negotiation and used to promote products in the fight against malaria.
"For a household living on less than 2 dollars per day, the only course of action is to boil the pot," a village chief in a community said. That’s why, in almost all countries, Plan talks with governments, partners, and local communities to subsidize services to fight against malaria. These services include: distributing free long life impregnated mosquito nets for pregnant women, providing insecticide treatment in homes, offering artemisinin-based combination therapy, and providing diagnostic testing.
In 2012, Plan contributed to the training and refresher courses of 27,900 workers and 3,800 community health professionals in West Africa.
A Lack of Major Funding
All this prevention and diagnosis work is only possible thanks to the financial investment from the international community. But in its 2012 report, the World Health Organization said that after growing rapidly between 2004 and 2009, global funding for malaria prevention and control stagnated between 2010 and 2012, and the distribution of certain products, such as saving nets, has slowed down.
Between 2011 and 2020, $5.1 billion dollars would be needed annually to achieve universal access to malaria prevention and treatment in countries where transmission persists. However, the total funds available globally in 2011 remained at a steady $2.3 billion dollars–less than half of the amount needed.
"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.