WHO marks World Malaria Day on 25 April
25 April 2009 -- In this episode, as we mark World Malaria Day on 25 April, we look at what needs to be done in all endemic regions to control, eliminate and ultimately eradicate malaria.
Transcript of the podcast
Veronica Riemer: In this episode, as we mark World Malaria Day on 25 April, we look at what needs to be done in all endemic regions to control, eliminate and ultimately eradicate malaria.
Dr Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership hosted by WHO tells us why we should all be concerned.
Dr Awa Marie Coll-Seck: Malaria kills 3000 children a day, slows down economic development and keeps people poor. Malaria concerns everyone because its impact is truly global. It devastates families and communities in 109 countries around the world. Because it is transmitted by mosquitoes which do not respect national borders, the disease can be imported in countries that are currently malaria-free.
Veronica Riemer: Dr Coll-Seck talks about those people most at risk.
Dr Awa Marie Coll-Seck: The main victims of malaria are very young children and pregnant women. When it doesn’t kill, the disease impairs a child’s learning ability. It prevents the young generation from getting good education and access to better economic opportunities in the future.
Veronica Riemer: 3.3 billion people, or nearly half of the world's population, is at risk of malaria and almost 1 million people die from this disease each year. And yet malaria is easy to prevent and treat. One particular success story comes from Zambia. Elizabeth Chizema-Kawesha, Zambia's Malaria Control Manager, tells us more.
Elizabeth Chizema-Kawesha: For a long time now malaria has been the number one cause of attendance to hospitals both as outpatients and inpatients. It has also been the leading cause of death in our institutions as well as those that die from home. But with the interventions that we have put in and in addition to the ambitious goals that Zambia set itself in partnership with the National Malaria Control Programme, we have been able to adopt cost effective interventions, and we are now beginning to see a remarkable reduction in both severe malaria cases as well as deaths. From the recent review we have recently conducted we observed that the number of deaths have reduced by over 66%.
Veronica Riemer: Dr Mac Otten, Coordinator for Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Global Malaria Programme, at the World Health Organization tells us how this has been achieved.
Dr Mac Otten: One of the reasons it appears, for the success in Zambia, the 66% reduction in deaths, is because they targeted bednets to their entire population, not just the very very high risk children and pregnant women. In Zambia they delivered two to three nets for every household, so that everybody was covered, so there was enough killing power so to speak from having two or three nets in the house and not only protected those who were not sleeping under the net but also even neighbours who didn't have a net. This is especially important we think in very high transmission countries, especially in western-central Africa. Zambia, around 2006/2007 started this process of targeting everybody and that is one reason why in the last two years they have had this enormous drop in malaria specific mortality.
Veronica Riemer: In addition to providing bednets to its entire population, two other methods of controlling the transmission have also been effective.
Dr Mac Otten: The second is effective malarial treatment and that is mostly now new anti malarial drug called artemisin combination therapy. The third is spraying insecticide on the walls of houses with the same principle as the nets. The mosquitos come into the house and they land on the walls and they pick up insecticide and are killed. So those are the three main interventions that countries are using to reduce malaria deaths.
Veronica Riemer: Grants worth US$ 120 million from the Global Fund as well as support from partners including the President's Malaria Initiative, the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa and the World Bank have made this success possible. Zambia's efforts will be promoted as a model for other countries to follow on the occasion of World Malaria Day, on 25 April.
Elizabeth Chizema-Kawesha: It is important that they draw lessons from the scale up of the malaria control programmes in Zambia. When we started we did not have adequate resources and therefore we were able to provide resources where it was most needed. For instance the insecticide treated bednets were targeted at the rural areas where it was not feasible to spray, and the spraying on the walls with the chemicals that actually killed the mosquitoes were then targeted to more urban areas where households were very close together. When you have ambitious goals you will set out your own targets, you begin to look for resources so that you can meet those targets.
Veronica Riemer: That was from Elizabeth Chizema-Kawesha from Zambia's National Malaria Control Programme. If you would like to learn more about this subject, there are links to related information on the transcript page of this podcast episode. Look for the link to the podcast on the home page of our web site, at www.who.int.
That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening.
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For the World Health Organization, this is Veronica Riemer in Geneva.