Monday, December 4, 2017

Aiming for a malaria-free generation begins with you

Syriacus Buguzi

Syriacus Buguzi 

By Dr Syriacus Buguzi

The saying, “an HIV-free generation begins with you,” seems to have paid off because combating the disease depends largely on the adherence of people to the prescribed methods of prevention.
This campaign, coupled with what governments and other stakeholders have been investing, clearly explains why between 2000 and 2016, new HIV infections fell by 39 per cent globally, according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
If the same campaign was promoted for malaria, there could be huge improvement in curbing the deaths related to the mosquito-borne disease, which still occur in Tanzania and other countries.
It’s the individual who will decide whether to use the insecticide treated net or not, go for test and treatment or not, clear the bushes and stagnant water around the home or not—it is all about people’s willingness to prevent, which of course comes after years of sensitisation.
In Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program (ZAMEP) has managed to keep the prevalence of the disease as low as less than 1 per cent since 2010, reaching up to 0.003 percent in recent years.
ZAMEP owes this success to community sensitisation, household surveillance of the disease, coupled with the treatment of all cases, emphasis on use of insecticide treated nets and indoor residual spraying. But above all, individuals were willing enough to deal with the disease.
Currently in Tanzania, 90 per cent of the population live in areas that carry a high risk of Malaria transmission, says the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP). If everyone takes it as a responsibility, great achievements can be attained; borrowing a leaf from the Isles—our closest neighbours.
At global level, stakeholders worry that the unprecedented global progress in fighting malaria since 2000 is at stake unless countries redouble their efforts, according to the latest figures released by WHO on Tuesday last week.
The report shows a growing gap between high-burden countries, those lagging behind and those on the path towards malaria elimination.
Rwanda has seen the greatest increase in malaria cases since last year — around 1 million, while Madagascar has the greatest decrease of more than 800,000.
Whereas Senegal and Sri Lanka are showing that beating malaria is possible. Sri Lanka was certified as malaria-free by WHO in 2016, a milestone largely achieved through domestic financing.
Senegal has seen its malaria cases decrease by more than 250,000 since last year.
A nationwide malaria campaign “Zero malaria starts with me” is engaging Senegalese citizens to keep malaria high on the agenda.
So, why should such a campaign not start today in Tanzania?