Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TZ excels in efforts to curb malaria

By Bernard Lugongo ,The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. Over 50 per cent of Tanzanian households own insecticide treated nets (ITN) enough for all occupants, making the country a leader in Africa in the proportion of ITN-owning households, a new report shows.

According to the World Malaria Report released this week, the country also leads the region by having 91 per cent of its households owning treated nets, even though they are not enough for all inhabitants.

The report notes that the country has made progress in reducing deaths resulting from the disease because for the past four years deaths have been decreasing from 16,776 to 7,820.

The number of malaria cases also was reduced to 2,972,186 in the year 2012 from 12,752,090 in 2009.

The report says the proportion of households in Sub-Saharan Africa owning at least one ITN increased steadily, from three per cent in 2000 to 56 per cent.

The rate of increase in the estimated proportion of households owning at least one ITN has slowed recently; it decreased slightly, to 54 per cent.

The decrease is probably related to the lower number of ITNs delivered to countries during 2011 and 2012, coupled with attrition of ITNs (due to loss and physical degradation), which reduces the supply of available nets.

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the report showed that increased political commitment and the expansion of global malaria investments since 2000 had led to major gains against the preventable disease, saving an estimated 3.3 million lives.

“Each year we have a better understanding of global malaria trends and the burden of disease, as measured against the situation in 2000,” she said.

According to the latest estimates, malaria mortality rates were reduced by about 45 per cent globally and by 49 per cent in the WHO African region between 2000 and 2012.

During the same period, malaria incident rates declined by 29 per cent around the world, and by 31 pert cent in the African region.

These substantial reductions occurred as a result of a major scale-up of vector control interventions, diagnostic testing, and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies.

She said the world also needs to stay focused on addressing the global funding gap for malaria prevention and control.

The currently available funding is far less than required to reach universal access to malaria interventions.

“To achieve our goal, we need an accelerated effort in scaling up vector control tools. We also need to ensure that the most vulnerable groups – children under five, infants and pregnant women – get access to treament,” she said.

The report notes that in 2013, there were 97 countries and territories with ongoing malaria transmission, and 7 countries in the prevention of reintroduction phase, making a total of 104 countries and territories in which malaria is presently considered endemic. Globally, an estimated 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria.