Friday, May 27, 2011

Malaria hinders achievement of MDGs

Malaria, which is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes, remains a serious obstacle to the achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly Goal 2, universal primary education, and Goal 4, the reduction of infant mortality.
Reducing the impact of malaria is key to the achievement of the MDGs, as agreed by every United Nation Member State.  These include not only combating the disease itself, but also goal related to women’s and children’s right and health, access to education and the reduction of extreme poverty.
In cognizant of the fact that malaria causes significant economic losses, and can decrease gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 1.3%, the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) through it’s Gambia Chapter has, as part of the World Malaria Day commemoration, organized a day-long seminar for 25 senior reporters and editors from both the print and electronic media houses to discuss, among other things, the current state of malaria in The Gambia as well as the state of pneumococcal vaccine trial in the country.
“You will agreed with me that Malaria is a particular problem and a major one in areas of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America as it poses a serious threat to society and unless precautions are taken, our countries will face serious consequences,” Pa Momodou Faal, the national coordinator of AMMREN – The Gambia Chapter said while delivering a statement at the seminar which was held at the conference hall of National Malaria Control Programme in Kanifing.
The Gambia, according to Mr Faal, has registered significant strides in the control and prevention of malaria through the change of treatment policy and the provision of the anti-malarial drug called Coartem in all public health facilities, as well as an increased community mobilization and participation to prevent malaria.
“Despite all the gains registered in the fight against malaria, it is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure a malaria-free society,” AMMREN national coordinator said.
He explained that malaria is a major killer disease as research reveals that every year between 350 and 500 million people get infected, and one million die as a result of malaria, predominantly in the sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria is still a major public health problem, in the Gambia accounting for over 40% of hospital visits and being the leading cause of morbidity and mortality.
Mr Faal urges authorities to give more attention to the Abuja Declaration which was passed by 53 African Heads of State in April 2000, to intensify their efforts in the fight against malaria.
“The declaration should not be left like that,” he said, adding: “The battle should be intensified to save the lives of many African children and women.”
AMMREN national coordinator told the media practitioners that this is the fourth time AMMREN, a leading organization in the fight against malaria, is engaged in Malaria Day commemorations in its 10 member countries in Africa.
Balla Kandeh, the deputy programme manager at the National Malaria Control Programme, Prof Umberto D’Alessandro, team leader Disease Control and Elimination MRC The Gambia also spoke at the occasion.

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