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UN appeals for urgent funding to fight malaria epidemic in Ethiopia

UN appeals for urgent funding to fight malaria epidemic in Ethiopia

A United Nations-backed national anti-malaria campaign in Ethiopia today appealed for urgent funding to fill a shortfall of over 50 per cent in aid needed to combat a potential upsurge in the disease that could affect more than 6 million people within the next six months.

The Ethiopian Government’s Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, which includes the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said it had secured only $4 million of the $8.9 million sought to buy a more expensive drug to counter the disease’s growing resistance to traditional treatment.

During the last few years Ethiopia has witnessed a major increase in malaria due in part to the parasites developing resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) in more than a third of cases.

As a result, the country’s Health Ministry approved a new first-line antimalarial drug, Artemether-Lumefantrine, a much more effective Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) with a 99 per cent cure rate compared to 64 per cent for SP. But it costs significantly more, ranging from 90 cents for a small child’s dose to $2.40 for an adult dose compared with only 10 cents or less for SP.

In another health-related development, UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a project to benefit 6 million children in 7 regions of Ethiopia by reducing the mortality rate of mothers and children and increasing access to health care and provide supplementary food.

The Enhanced Outreach Strategy (EOS) of the Child Survival Programme is a three-year UNICEF project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and complemented by WFP.

“The EOS activities are ensuring that mothers and children receive the basic preventive health care that is their fundamental human right,” UNICEF’s Representative in Ethiopia Bjorn Ljungqvist said. “By taking health care to the village level, working with community volunteers, we ensure that every mother and child gets the care they are entitled to, ensuring that preventable diseases are treated before they become more serious and endanger children’s survival.”

Noting that his agency had to help find practical solutions to malnutrition of children and women, WFP Country Director Georgia Shaver said: “WFP’s activities in this joint effort are not limited to targeted supplementary feeding but also promotion of key messages on nutrition.”