Funding for malaria prevention saves childrens lives

Young malaria patient near Alem Kitmama, Ethiopia.

In the 10 years since 2001, money for the prevention of malaria has saved the lives of an estimated 850 000 children in Africa.


In the 10 years since 2001, money for the prevention of malaria has saved the lives of an estimated 850 000 children in Africa. An ongoing debate exists in a worldwide forum of health experts as to whether funds should be donated to the prevention or the cure of the curable disease.

Supporting the goals of the Millennium Development Goals and the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) from Roll Back Malaria, UNICEF aims to reach certain targets by 2015. These include reducing the malaria mortality rate in the poorest groups of the affected countries and universal coverage of the topic, supported by effective interventions.

Researchers from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in the USA, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), used a Lives Saved Tool (LiST) model for their findings.

They investigated the impact of malaria prevention in the decade between 2001 and 2010 across 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is endemic. The team, led by Dr Thomas Eisele, based their model on UN estimates of malaria deaths over the year 2000 and future population growth, the effectiveness of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITN) in preventing child deaths, and the number of households using ITNs to protect their children.


In their estimations, malaria caused 655 000 deaths in 2010, mostly among children. They estimate that a child dies every minute due to malaria, even though the disease is preventable and curable. In addition to the diagnosis and treatment of sick children, simple solutions like ITN and malaria prevention during pregnancy have all been shown to reduce the number of deaths due to malaria.

Initiatives like Roll Back Malaria, set up in 1998 by the WHO, aim to reduce child mortality due to malaria by two thirds by 2015, using large scale implementation of these simple solutions. In addition to the practical methods implemented to prevent and cure the disease, efforts are being made by Roll Back Malaria and similar organizations to raise awareness on the disease and educate those who are at risk of contracting the disease.

The LiST model conservatively estimates that malaria prevention has saved 850,000 children's lives over the past decade, 99% of these were saved by using ITN alone. Long-lasting insecticide nets (LLINs) last for a period of three years and is provided by large financial donations.

Dr Thomas Eisele commented, "Malaria continues to cause a tremendous amount of child deaths throughout Africa. If 100 percent of the children at risk of malaria had insecticide mosquito nets, we estimate as many as 2.77 million additional children's lives could be saved by 2015."

References

Africa Fighting Malaria
http://www.fightingmalaria.org/news.aspx?id=2176

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
http://www.unicef.org/health/index_malaria.html

World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/



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