World Malaria Day
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Another World Malaria day is here. The Gambia
joins the rest of the world to commemorate the day with the theme, ‘sustain
gains, safe live’, with a view to brainstorming on strategic ways to deal with
the escalating phenomenon of malaria.
The day is also significant in that malaria is an important social, economic, and developmental problem affecting individuals, families, communities, and countries. Scientific research continues to show that the vast majority of malaria deaths occur in Africa south of the Sahara, where malaria also presents major obstacles to social and economic development. The disease has been estimated to cost Africa more than US$ 12 billion every year in lost Gross Domestic Product, even though it could be controlled for a fraction of that sum.
In Africa today, malaria is understood to be
both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty. Annual economic growth in
countries with high malaria transmission has historically been lower than in
countries without malaria. Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a
growth penalty of up to 1.3%% per year in some African countries. When
compounded over the years, this penalty leads to substantial differences in GDP
between countries with and without malaria and severely restrains the economic
growth of the entire region.
Malaria also has a direct impact on human
resources. Not only does malaria result in lost life and lost productivity due
to illness and premature death, it also hampers children's schooling and social
development through both absenteeism and permanent neurological and other
damage associated with severe episodes of the disease. Such an upsurge of
malaria in Africa is probably caused by many factors, including rapidly
spreading resistance to antimalarial drugs, climatic changes, and population
movements. Yet, control efforts have been piecemeal and not coordinated.
Of course, inspite of the increase in the
malaria pandemic, countries like The Gambia have over the yearsregistered significant strides in the
control and prevention of malaria in the country, through the change of
treatment policy and the provision of the antimalarial drugs in all public
health facilities, as well as an increased community mobilisation and
participation to prevent malaria.This has resulted in a sharp decline in malaria-related cases in The
Gambia over the years.
Since 2003, efforts to deliver malaria
interventions to pregnant women and children under five – including
intermittent preventive treatment, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets
(ITNs) and indoor residual sprayinghave been stepped up considerably.
However, this does not mean that all is right. 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. The celebration of the malaria day should serve as a platform to take stock of our past achievements in the fight against malaria, and seek new ways of eradicating it from our society.
Author: Daily Observer