Home / News / News archive / 2011 / September 2011 / African leaders push back on malaria

African leaders push back on malaria

African leaders renewed their vow to tackle malaria by launching a scorecard to track their progress in fighting the disease.

The malaria scorecard will also keep close check on maternal, newborn and child health.

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) will put the results on its website monthly, and said it is a key tool for achieving the global goal of near zero malaria deaths by 2015.

Launching the scheme at a meting in New York on Monday, Alma’s chairman, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete said Alma’s two-year focus on the disease was already paying off. He said dramatically less people are dying from the disease across the continent. And in recent years 11 endemic countries in Africa have been able to slash malaria cases by 50 per cent. "The evidence is becoming obvious. Malaria infection in Africa is receding."

Handing out bed mosquito nets, spraying insecticide, and fast diagnosis and treatment are driving the progress, President Kikwete added. Since 2008, he said, 229 million long-lasting insect-treated bed nets have been distributed in Africa, which he said was enough to achieve 84 per cent coverage of those at risk from the disease. And the number of homes covered by indoor insecticide spraying had gone up from 20 million to 75 million over the past five years.

Malaria is Africa's leading killer, affecting 170 million people on the continent every year. Every 45 seconds, a child dies from malaria, according to the WHO.

But the disease also stalls development, with two per cent of Africa's GDP lost each year because of the illness. Production of goods and services is disrupted and poor families end up spending 25 per cent of their incomes for treatment.

Despite the successes, President Kikwete said Africa still has challenges to overcome. He said the progress must be kept up, more people should be getting access to prevention and treatment up and new sources of funding need to be found. 

"We have guided our countries in making great strides in the fight against malaria and we remain committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the remaining challenges and win this war," Kikwete said.

"Losing is not an option."

Alma, which has 40 African leaders as members was launched two years ago in a bid to bring malaria deaths to near zero across the continent by 2015 in line with United Nations Millennium Development Goals to improve health, reduce poverty and boost development of the continent.

Hayley attribution