Test, Treat, Track: New Approach To Malaria Control

AS the world takes stock of the gains of the multifaceted war against malaria on the World Malaria Day 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set forth a new strategy to bring a near-zero malaria death in endemic countries. This is in line with achieving the 2015 MDG targets.

The world body, in a fresh initiative of T3: Test, Treat, and Track “urges malaria-endemic countries and donors to move towards universal access to diagnostic testing and anti-malarial treatment, and to build robust malaria surveillance systems.”

Although Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General says more than a million lives have been saved in the past decade due to increased investment in malaria prevention and control, “we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions.”

While acknowledging the tremendous strides made in the fight against the scourge, Dr Chan says dependence on the current level of funding and support would not be sufficient to meet global targets of malarial control.

IN Nigeria, five states are benefitting from the Partnership for Transforming Health Systems 2 working with Clinton Health Access Initiative to distribute artemisinin-based combination therapies.

These are to ride on the innovative financing mechanism through the Affordable Medicines Facility that makes ACTs accessible to several countries.

According to Agency reports, the African Development Bank (ADB) is throwing in a $30million grant in support of the control of communicable diseases, including malaria, in the Southern African Development Community region.

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair laments the foot-dragging of donors, who should tackle the “utterly preventable” disease. In a piece for Huffington Post, Blair

notes that, “the real point is that malaria was eradicated in the USA and UK because people realised that it was utterly preventable and set about preventing it with adequate resources to hand. And there are no reasons it cannot be eradicated in Africa and other endemic malarial areas too. Or rather there are several reasons all of which can be overcome with sufficient political will and application. It remains an entirely preventable disease.”

Faith leaders like Bishop Sunday Onuoha in Nigeria among others; the former PM notes have been notable influences through their outreach and networks on their communities, in national campaigns against the disease.

“I have seen this collaboration with Ministries of Health in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. It takes so little to protect the under-fives, an impregnated bed net, the knowledge of how to use it properly and cleaning up stagnant water. Two visits to the health clinic can save the lives of pregnant women who are particularly vulnerable,” Blair argued.

Though the former British PM believes, “intensive national campaigns that reduce deaths significantly and open up the possibility of eradication cost money, international donors, the Global Fund and the US Presidents’ Fund, make them possible.”

But rather unfortunately, the impact of economic crisis has led to faltering steps by donors. He observes sadly, “pledges are not being fulfilled, there is foot dragging and this could set the clock back and break the momentum across the world.”

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