Partnership to stop malaria has made unprecedented gains, UNICEF says

22 April 2005

The Roll Back Malaria Partnership, grouping governments, businesses and celebrities from around the world, has made unprecedented strides in reducing the spread of malaria in Africa by promoting the manufacture on the continent of anti-malarial medicines and millions of insecticide-treated bed nets, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.

Malaria kills nearly a million African children under 5 each year, more than any other single infection, and those who survive may suffer from brain damage or paralysis, yet the disease can be prevented by protection against mosquito bites and there is effective treatment, UNICEF said as it prepared to mark Africa Malaria Day 2005 on Monday.

"In Tanzania, partnership enabled the introduction of new technology to Africa for the local manufacture of the most advanced, long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Production, which began in 2004, will hit 7 million nets by the end of 2005," it said.

The campaign last December in Togo ensured that 98 per cent of households with children under 5 now owned at least one treated net, with the overall percentage of households covered rising to 62 per cent from just 6 per cent, it said.

In some African countries, UNICEF said, local people have launched agricultural projects, with the support of partners, to produce the raw materials needed to make the most effective anti-malarial medicines available, the artemisinin-based combination therapies.

"These projects could yield an estimated 35 million or more additional doses of these medicines by the end of 2005," it said.

In China, Europe and the United Sates, pharmaceutical companies have also been increasing production of the medicines, it said.

UNICEF said African Malaria Day would be observed around the world, but it drew particular attention to celebrations scheduled to take place in Lusaka, Zambia, Brussels, Belgium, and Washington, D.C.


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