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UNICEF goodwill ambassador Lang Lang praises Tanzania's fight to stop malaria

UNICEF goodwill ambassador Lang Lang praises Tanzania's fight to stop malaria

Piano virtuoso Lang Lang, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is visiting Tanzania, where he praised the Government's efforts to fight malaria - a killer of more than 1 million people each year, most of them under five years old and living in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The Tanzanian people have shown me that the long-term solution to malaria lies where the problem is most keenly felt - at community level," the 21-year-old Lang Lang said during a four-day tour of the country with UNICEF, his first since being appointed in May as the youngest representative of the UN agency.

"But communities need the support of their national governments, and international donors to give them vital tools to fight this disease. We have to fortify our partnerships against malaria to guarantee a better future for children," he added.

According to UNICEF, malaria is responsible for a quarter of all child deaths worldwide, preventable by means that are simple, effective and available. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets can reduce deaths by at least 20 per cent and the newest anti-malarial drug is almost 100 per cent effective against the disease.

In Rundugai village, located in the shadows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lang Lang was able to participate in a village health day. As he awarded prizes of insecticide treated nets to mothers and children who have maintained excellent health records, he was brought face to face with the communities' success stories in the fight against malaria.

"These communities fear malaria as the biggest killer of young children in Africa," he said. "But they have proved that with innovative and community based interventions, deaths can be lowered significantly."

One such intervention is the voucher scheme, which allows pregnant women and young mothers to buy affordable insecticide treated nets through a subsidy system. This system has proven to be an effective tool in the management of malaria at the community level, providing prompt and effective management of the illness for young children.