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Is the End in Sight for Ebola and AIDS? What about Malaria?

MCDI  ICT rapid test  in Equatorial Guinea

Medical Care Development International is working to reduce malaria-related illness and death in Sub Saharan Africa.

Recently there has been some good news on two global diseases—Ebola and AIDS. Public health officials at the World Health Organization expect that, with diligence, the Ebola crisis in West Africa may be eliminated by the end of 2015. The Foundation for AIDS Research, or Amfar, has committed $100 million to undertake research it believes may lead to an end of AIDS by 2020. Good news for sure.

But one health problem continues to plague the developing world, particularly Africa. Despite decades of research and public health interventions, prospects for containing malaria remain elusive.

The World Health Organization estimates that 3.2 billion people (almost half the world’s population) are at risk of malaria. Each year there are between 125 and 300 million cases of malaria worldwide and deaths from malaria ranging from almost 400,000 to 700,000. People living in Sub Saharan Africa account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths, and most of these are children. Although these numbers are alarming, malaria control and prevention since 2000 has reduced malaria deaths in Africa by more than 50 percent.

Recent news reports of a drug-resistant strain of malaria in Asia are heightening concerns. So are reports of mosquitoes adapting to simple technologies that were viewed as a way to greatly reduce the spread of the disease. Although insecticide-treated bed nets are still important in the fight to end malaria, scientists are finding that mosquitoes are developing resistance to the insecticides. And they are changing their biting cycles to daylight, when bed nets are not in use.

Speaking recently on National Public Radio, Dr. Alan Magill, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s malaria program, said that eradicating malaria will require a strategy that incorporates science, political will, financial commitment and working with the private sector to develop approaches that tackle the problem.

That private sector commitment involves grassroots nonprofits working throughout the continent, including Aid for Africa members. For example, Medical Care Development International’s malaria programs have helped almost one million people. Currently, the organization is working in nine African countries in West, Central and East Africa to train laboratory staff and health professionals to improve diagnosis and testing for malaria. Medical Care is also working with the government of Benin in West Africa to develop the type of strategy for malaria eradication described by Magill.

In Tanzania, Touch Foundation, also an Aid for Africa member, is working to train doctors, nurses and healthcare providers in the Lake Victoria area of the country and to staff regional hospitals to maintain ongoing programs focused on malaria and other diseases.

Improving healthcare overall and fighting malaria specifically will take determination. Aid for Africa member charities are committed to making this happen.

 

Want to learn more about Aid for Africa members providing healthcare in Sub Saharan Africa? Click here.

Read other blogs about disease in Sub Saharan Africa.

As the Ebola Crisis Eases, What’s Next in West Africa

Fighting Ebola through Local Networks and Know-how

Why Are We Still Fighting Polio and Leprosy?