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Turning the Millennium Goals into Reality: Goal 6—Combat HIV, Malaria, and Other Diseases

In the sixth blog post in our series about the UN’s Millennium Development Goals we focus on Millennium Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases. The targets of the goal are by 2015 to begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases, including tuberculosis. Another goal target was to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all who need it.

Aid for Africa has discussed the status of HIV and AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa in other blog posts, most recently on December 1, World AIDS Day.  In this blog we would like to focus on malaria, a disease that the World Health Organization says killed some 655,000 individuals in 2010, mostly children and mostly in Africa.  In his recent “Global Update,” New York Time’s Donald McNeil Jr. reported that the largest gains in reducing malaria deaths were also in Africa.  Insecticide-treated bed nets have been a big part of the reason.  In 2010 some 145 million bed nets were distributed in Africa.  While encouraging, problems persist.  The UN finds that the very poor do not have access or cannot afford the nets, the poorest children are least likely to receive treatment for malaria, and the battle to combat malaria requires and is receiving external funding, but not enough.

While bed nets are one strategy, many Aid for Africa members are also providing access to safe and effective drugs and insecticides to stop needless deaths and eliminate malaria.  Africa Fighting Malaria provides critical support for many malaria control programs in Africa and a leading role in ensuring the drugs used to treat malaria in Africa are safe and of good quality.

Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, provides health services to some 90,000 Maasai in southeast rural Kenya treating AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, the second leading killer after HIV, according to the UN.  Mosquito nets and drugs for malaria and tuberculosis are important tools in their work.

Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, founded to support the hospital of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of the same name in Gabon, West Africa, also focuses on malaria eradication and is one of the most respected and productive research facilities in Africa. The John Dau Foundation provides life-saving treatment for malaria, HIV/AID and tuberculosis in the new nation of South Sudan. The International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, or ICIPE, researches the transmission of the disease through mosquito’s and empowers people with that knowledge so they can prevent and break the malaria cycle.

These are just a few of the Aid for Africa organizations working to help end the scourge of malaria in Africa.  The road is not easy, but the journey is underway.

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