Fighting Malaria in Africa
African populations are extremely affected by Malaria, which is caused by blood parasites transmitted from person to person through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Here are a few facts about the incidence of malaria in Africa:
1. It costs the continent $12 billion a year
2. The African Region accounts for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide.
3. 85% of malaria deaths occur in children under five years of age.
4. Malaria causes avoidable and often catastrophic spending for households and is an obstacle to the development of affected African communities and nation.
5. World Malaria Day, a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria, falls on April 25.
6. Globally, a child dies from malaria every minute.
At the 2000 and 2006 summits held in Abuja, Nigeria, African heads of states and governments committed to leading the reduction of the malaria burden through ensuring universal access of exposed populations to essential malaria prevention and treatment interventions. Now thanks to increased financing and access to interventions, estimated malaria mortality rates decreased between 2000 and 2013 by 47 percent worldwide and by 54 percent in Africa alone.
Since 2001, collective efforts have helped avert more than four million malaria-related deaths globally – the large majority of which are estimated to have been children under five – and today, fewer people than ever before in Africa are becoming infected with malaria. However, with temperatures steadily increasing throughout the world as a result of global warming, malaria-transmitting mosquitoes have begun to take residence in new regions, raising the incidence of malaria spreading far beyond its current boundaries.
Malaria cases and deaths are not simply numbers; they are lives lost and promises and dreams not realized. Studies suggest that if not for malaria keeping children out of school and agricultural workers out of the fields, the rate of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa would have been much higher in the past few decades. Therefore, when we invest in malaria, we not only invest in health and economic advancement, we also invest in individuals, entire communities and future generations of leaders.
One of the most effective malaria control measures has been the free distribution of hundreds of millions of insecticide-treated mosquito nets that protect people from mosquitoes while sleeping; and research has shown that the actual mosquito population drops by as much as 90% when three-quarters of a community uses nets consistently.
Numerous development banks and agencies continue to provide the resources necessary to scale-up innovative interventions and save lives. Domestic resources – while low – are on the increase and over the next few years, we should hopefully see increased monetary participation from African governments as Africa continues to experience strong economic growth.
There are many actors in the global fight against malaria and these actors realize that traditional development aid alone will not suffice, so a number of innovative financing solutions – like UNITAID’s tax on air tickets – have been created and others are being piloted, like the pay for performance tax bond just starting in Mozambique. These innovative financing and prevention methods are a testament to cross-border collaboration, dedication and partnership in the fight against malaria and one such example of collaboration is NetsForLife®, a partnership of corporations, foundations, nongovernmental groups, and faith-based organizations working to fight malaria in Africa. To date, the organization has successfully distributed 21,922,378 nets reaching 41,726,540 people.
It will certainly take much more than international intervention to tame this parasite. All African communities must own and take part in the fight against malaria, provide human and financial resources and develop alliances to conquer the scourge of malaria across the continent. To learn more about malaria in Africa or to be a part of the solution, please visit NetsForLife or MalariaNoMore.