Africa steps up fight against malaria (2)

08:33, May 06, 2010      

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Malaria is taking a heavy toll on Africa's economic and social development. It not only kills a child every 30 seconds, but also contributes to the vicious cycle of poverty. The Global Malaria Action Plan estimates that malaria costs the continent 12 billion U.S. dollars each year in direct economic losses, and much more in lost productivity.

ALMA said it has finalized a bulk purchase of 50 million LLINs by 12 African countries, which is expected to reduce costs and extend coverage of LLINs for populations threatened by malaria.

Currently, 200 million LLINs are in place, covering half of the at-risk population in Africa, ALMA said, adding that some 150 million additional nets will be produced and delivered by the end of this year. A total of 350 million nets are needed to protect the entire at-risk population in Africa.

Last month, the World Bank also announced a 200-million-dollar new funding for Africa for the purchase of LLINs, ALMA said. The 2010 Football World Cup will be held for the first time in the African soil this year. The continent will grasp this opportunity to advocate anti-malaria actions in a bid to reach the United Nations target of universal access to mosquito nets and malaria medicine in Africa by the end of 2010, a crucial first step to reaching the international target of reducing malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.

"We are on track to reach our fundamental goal of getting mosquito nets to all those in need by the end of 2010, but we still have to make sure the nets are being used properly," UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers said at the sidelines of the forum.

"Too often, nets are being left in their packaging or not utilized properly," said the UN envoy. "But by combing Africa's enthusiasm for football with messages encouraging proper net utilization, we know we can save lives."

ALMA and the United Against Malaria (UAM) partnership has issued a challenge to business and football associations to help make 2010 Football World Cup a turning point in eliminating malaria across Africa.

The 20th World Economic Forum on Africa, held from May 5 to 7 under the theme "Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy," is gathering around 1,000 participants from over 80 countries to discuss the continent's development agenda. Participants are expected to exchange ideas on Africa's growth strategy, the continent's response to the global economic crisis, infrastructure development, and peace and security, among others.


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