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Assignment 5 Op-Ed Eric Ndofor

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Letter to the Editor

Eric Ndofor ONE | Malaria No More Washington, D.C., USA  Tel: +1-571-233-597 +1-571-233-5974 4 e-mail: [email protected]

Malaria situation still scary despite drop in cases and deaths Despite remarkable progress in malaria control in the last decade, WHO warns that gains are fragile due to projected cuts in malaria funding and imminent insecticide and drug resistance. This means that for the malaria fight to go ahead successfully with positive impacts, we have to maintain these fragile gains and invest more for sustainable results. Sustainable outcomes would make believe that malaria is preventable and curable and ease the shift from malaria control to elimination. We have to increase interest, funding and constant unprecedented action on malaria to foil its persistence. According to the latest World Malaria Report (WMR) released by the World Health OrganizationWHO in 2011, malaria deaths fell by 25% globally and by 33% in the African Region since 2000. Out of 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission, 43 recorded decreases of more than 50% and 8 by 25% in malaria cases between 2000 and 2010. In 2010, an estimated 81% percent of malaria cases and 91% of deaths occurred in the WHO African Region. In Cameroon, malaria cases have reduced from 46% to 36% and deaths from 40% to 24% in the last five years. Global progress is due to important scaling-up of malaria prevention and control measures notably the universal increase in distribution of bed nets (LLINs) from 88.5 million in 2009 to 145 million in 2010, improved diagnostics and treatment. About 50% of homes in sub-Saharan Africa have at least one bed net, and 96% people use it. Rapid diagnostic tests increased from 45 million in 2008 to 88 million in 2010, and the testing rate in the public sector in Africa rose from 20% in 2005 to 45% in 2010. In 2010, 181 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)- first line treatment for malaria were procured, up from 11 million in 2005. Despite these remarkable efforts and gains, malaria cases and deaths are still frightening. One child still dies each minute. The theme for this year’s malaria day (April 25 th), “sustain gains, save lives and invest in malaria” is a call for all to take more interest and action on malaria. By investing in malaria, we will sustain gains, save lives and progress in the malaria fight. The investment we have to make is simple and cost-effective- grab a free bed net from the public health department, sleep under it every night and maintain it as prescribed. And remember to present all cases for proper diagnosis and treatment to a health facility or community relay.  The hard-earned hard-earned gains and progress in malaria control are also threatened threatened by a likely shortfall in foreign aid. If a deficit arises, malaria control will become more expensive and efforts in controlling the disease will slow down. This means that the disease will bounce back to full and stronger action against a population who cannot afford to control and prevent it. Progress in malaria control is the more reason why funding should increase so that we can reduce malaria to an acceptable level. International funds for malaria control reached US$ 1.7 billion in 2010 and US$ 2 billion in 2011, but remained significantly below the US$ 5-6 billion that would be needed annually to achieve global malaria targets. According to forecasts in the WMR 2011, despite increased support from the United Kingdom, malaria funding will slightly decrease in 2012 and 2013, and will likely drop further to an annual US$ 1.5 billion by 2015. This decrease will greatly alter the malaria control landscape and affect the sustainability of the integrated approach to fight the disease, which relies on investments in LLINs, indoor residual spraying, laboratory testing, treatment and research.  The present present malaria control measures measures are working but need to be reliable, reliable, innovative innovative and sustainable following threats of drug and insecticide resistance. We need a fully-resourced Global Fund, Fund, new donors donors and endemi endemic c countrie countries s to join forces forces and address address these giant giant challen challenges ges proactively. The millions of LLINs distributed and now preventing malaria transmission need to be replaced in the coming years and universal access to diagnostic testing and effective treatment with

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Letter to the Editor

ACTs must be realized. We need to also act fast so as not to lose the present focus and gains on malaria control.

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