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Ethiopia Can Beat Malaria - UN

Ethiopia Can Beat Malaria With Its Latest Programme, Says Official At Un Children’s Agency

New York, Sep 28 2006 4:00PM

Ethiopia has a chance of defeating malaria, its biggest killer, an official from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today as the Horn of Africa country’s Government launched a major push against the disease ahead of the annual transmission season.

Speaking at the launch in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, UNICEF Country Representative Bjorn Ljungqvist said: “We now have an historic opportunity to get on top of malaria. We can make this killer disease as manageable as measles and other childhood conditions in the West.”

Malaria infects nine million Ethiopians each year and can kill more than 100,000 people, mostly young children, within just a few months during an epidemic. The peak of the annual transmission season is October to November.

The three-pronged programme will cost at least $140 million over the next three years and is being supported by UNICEF, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and several foreign governments and public agencies.

Under the campaign the distribution of insecticide-treated malaria nets across the country is being expanded drastically. Before 2004, there were only 1.8 million nets; by the end of this year there will be eight million nets and that number will increase to 20 million by 2008.

Ethiopia will start treating the overwhelming majority of its malaria cases with the drug Coartem, which has a 99 per cent success rate, compared with the 36 per cent rate of the current preferred drug, Fansidar.

Health posts around the vast country are also being supplied with cheap rapid diagnostic test kits that can detect serious malaria cases within minutes, avoiding the delays that come with sending samples from patients to distant laboratories.

Mr. Ljungqvist urged international donors to keep up their support of the campaign as it continues, especially “the hard-to-fund parts of any malaria campaign – the monitoring and evaluation and the general management costs to run such a large operation.”


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