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On Africa Malaria Day, UNICEF says world must help curb spread of disease

On Africa Malaria Day, UNICEF says world must help curb spread of disease

UNICEF insecticide-treated  bednets
To mark Africa Malaria Day, UNICEF today urged the international community to reverse the spread of malaria, a disease that kills one person on the continent every 30 seconds and cripples so many of its youth.

Yearly, between 350 and 500 million people are infected with malaria, and 1 million die from the disease.

Although the disease has been eliminated in some areas, it still devastates many parts of the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where almost 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur.

“The treatments are available and the education is there. What are needed now are the resources,” UNICEF said in a press release.

w are the resources,” UNICEF said in a press release.

“Africa Malaria Day 2007 is a day for the world to speak with one voice, and the message is clear: Yes, malaria is deadly, but it is also preventable.”

In much of the continent, the disease is straining already overburdened health systems. The majority of malaria cases occur in children under the age of five, and infected pregnant women are at risk of contracting anaemia, endangering both their lives and those of their unborn children.

Methods to prevent malaria have been successful, including insecticide treated bednets, known as ITNs, which cost only $10 each and prevent mosquito bites that transmit malaria, have also been reported to last for up to five years.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that ITNs can slash malaria transmission by at least 60 per cent and child deaths by 20 per cent if used properly.

UNICEF has strongly pushed for the use of ITNs to combat the spread of the disease, and has funded their distribution across Africa.

In many provinces in Mozambique, the Government distributes ITNs for free to all pregnant women and to children under the age of five.

“Not only will a pregnant woman benefit from using the net, but so will her child, because most new mothers sleep with their babies for the first few years of life,” said UNICEF Officer for Malaria Timothy Freeman.

Malaria causes the highest number of deaths among children in the Southern African country, and it accounts for 60 per cent of paediatric hospital admissions and 30 per cent of hospital deaths.

The disease is also a main cause of death in Mozambique, which has one of the world’s highest child mortality rates.

UNICEF plays a key role in the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which was created in 1998 by UNICEF, WHO, the UN Deve