- Central African countries surveyed in new opinion study believe that halving
malaria deaths is more achievable than elimination by 2030.
- Malaria experts are worried that climate change could increase the threat
of malaria in the region
- Surveillance and programme delivery need to improve to drive progress
By Elias Hakizimana.
Four countries that include DRC, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Congo still have challenges to reduce Malaria burden in Africa, but health activists say it is possible to end the disease through different strategies.
They say that there are many challenges facing different countries in the fight against malaria, which have, in turn, slowed down efforts to combat malaria.
Their observation states that countries like Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are very large, hot and humid country with plenty of rain throughout the year.
In open interview with The Inspirer, Dr Nathan Mulure, Head Novartis Social Business, East & Southern Africa said that these conditions are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes and thereafter malaria.
He said that there is a large number of people who are asymptomatic but carrying malaria parasites for other countries.
Dr Mulure was speaking during the meeting to present new report issued at an RBM Partnership to End Malaria conference in Abuja on October 22, 2019.
“They provide a constant reservoir to continuously infect the populations. Other challenges include lack of prompt treatment and diagnosis. It is important to start malaria treatment within the first 24 hours of symptoms, otherwise, malaria can rapidly develop into severe malaria, hence difficult to treat. There’s a huge problem of counterfeits and lack of quality-assured ACTs especially in central Africa.” He said.
He continued noting that Patients are exposed to substandard medications that don’t work effectively, hence lack of efficacy and leading to morbidity and mortality.
He congratulated Rwanda to have measures in place in combating Malaria.
“Rwanda has a well regulated medical service sector, therefore patients are more likely to get effective drugs.” Mulure said.
Research shows that Malaria cases reached the highland regions which wasn’t the case citing that it is due to the changing rainfall patterns.
Below are the extracts from the interview
What would you say is the impact of increased temperature on malaria increase?
Increase in temperature, or global warming has been cited many times as being responsible for introducing malaria in previously unaffected areas. Highland regions have been too cold for mosquitoes and the parasites to complete the lifecycle. More and more, parasites are able to complete the cycle hence leading to infections from person to person. For malaria parasites to thrive, the temperatures have to be more than 18 degrees centigrade. With global warming, these conditions are increasing
Is the current funding enough to eradicate Malaria in Central Africa?
No amount of funding is enough to eradicate malaria. Malaria elimination requires concerted efforts from multiple sectors. It should not only be left to the Ministry of Health to eradicate malaria. Other non-health sectors like education, environment, water and sanitation must join hands to eliminate malaria. For example, there is a role for proper housing in malaria elimination. Shelters are able to keep out insects, are easy to spray, hence reducing the likelihood of getting bitten by malaria laden mosquitoes. We must also continue to ensure that the traditional malaria fighting strategies are enhanced and cost effective measures deployed.
In a nutshell, funding is not enough and worse still, at risk of being reduced. We must also mobilize local resources to complement what the donors have provided.
Are Malaria deaths increasing or decreasing?
Globally, Malaria deaths have been decreasing. 10 years ago, every 30 seconds, a child died of Malaria. Africa could lose up to 1 million people every year due to malaria. Today, this has reduced 5 fold. Every 2 minutes, a child dies of malaria. Number of deaths has decreased from 1 million to 500,000 according to the World Health Organization. This is a good development. However, many countries are still struggling to reduce the number of malaria deaths within their borders.
More domestic and international funding was also cited as critical, with respondents from Cameroon, DRC, and Republic of Congo saying more support is needed. Earlier this month, at the recent Replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, world leaders increased funding for programmes addressing these diseases with pledges totaling $14 billion for the period 2020-2023, meeting the Global Fund’s funding target. Rwanda pledged $2.5 million, DRC, Congo and Cameroon also made domestic resource pledges of $6 million, $5.5 million and $5 million, respectively.
Interviewees in the DRC saw the country as particularly hampered, having to fight a major Ebola outbreak while also bearing the second highest burden of malaria in the world. Inconsistent and variable funding from some donors and domestic sources was highlighted, as well as the need to translate national political will into increased domestic financing.