AMMREN to mark World Malaria Day today
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) will today Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, celebrate the World Malaria Day. As part of activities marking the day, the AMMREN Secretariat in Ghana issued a press statement, signed by its executive secretary, Charity Binka. The theme for this year’s World Malaria Day is “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.”
The theme, according to Binka, is appropriate as it marks a period of necessary action to maintain the gains and scale-up efforts towards achieving near-zero malaria deaths by 2015, as well as reduction of malaria deaths by one third over the last decade in Africa, which shows that investing in malaria does bring results. “It has also shown that these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers and donors,” she stated in the release.
AMMREN, Binka continued, consists of nine African countries through a network of journalists and scientists who regard the Day as another opportunity for the global malaria community to take stock of the promises made to end malaria deaths. “About 12 years ago, 40 African Heads of State made a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria to reduce the malaria burden on the continent by setting targets,” she revealed.
However, she went on, many countries have missed the 2005 and 2010 targets and it is unlikely that the 2015 targets would be met unless conscious efforts are made to achieve Universal Coverage of essential malaria interventions.
She further revealed that malaria is responsible for over 600, 000 deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa, while calling on stakeholders like the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) to treat fake drug manufacturers as well as their agents with the same ruthlessness used against dealers in narcotic drugs.
She pointed out that the inability of drug enforcement agencies, customs officers, the police and drug manufacturing giants to join forces and check this counterfeit problem can lead to a loss of confidence in orthodox medicine and compel people in poor countries to resort to herbal and unconventional solutions whether or not they have been certified to be efficacious and good for use. “The fact that even the artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is being faked is worrying.
A recent study published in the Malaria World Journal two months ago shows that the anti-malarial drugs subsidised under AMFm are the new targets for corrupt practices across borders,” she said.
She added that research has also shown that the Global Fund subsidized drugs were being sold in cities of countries where the subsidy programme has not been rolled out, which means that someone stole them from countries like Kenya and Ghana, where the subsidy programme has already been rolled out. “The cities where the stolen drugs were found included Addis Ababa, Cotonou, Lomé, Luanda, Lusaka and Maputo,” she named.
Binka also observed that Africa has witnessed a lot of progress towards controlling malaria through the massive deployment of bed nets among the vulnerable population, such as pregnant women and children and the development of effective medicine, subsidies on the cost of the drugs, and most importantly, the ongoing study to develop an effective vaccine against malaria.
She then called on stakeholders join efforts in order to collectively fight against malaria, adding that the media must remain vigilant in order to crowd out the use of mono-therapies and also educate people on the correct usage of treated bed nets and other interventions.
“AMMREN believes that malaria can be ‘pushed’ out of Africa with concerted efforts by all. As we celebrate another World Malaria Day, AMMREN salutes all those working tirelessly to eliminate malaria from Africa. Let us keep the fire burning,” she concluded.
Author: Bintou KB Janneh