Two thousand seven hundred forty dead. Today. Same tomorrow…

Africa Malaria Day 2007

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/ HQ04-1276/Giacomo Pirozzi
Katuwala Saruwai, 10, embraces his sleeping baby brother Kalu at a local health clinic in the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay Province. Ten-month-old Kalu is suffering from severe malaria, a primary cause of child deaths in the country.

Malaria kills over one million people each year worldwide. More than 80 per cent of these deaths take place in Sub-Saharan Africa and most are among children under five years of age. An African child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.Malaria is one of the biggest killers of children in Africa, accounting for nearly one in five of the continent’s child deaths.

Yet this disease is both preventable and treatable. The solutions are available. For just US$10, a child can be protected against malaria by a long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net (ITN). And an infected child can be treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

The good news is that there was a ten-fold increase in ITN distribution in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2003, and surveys in 2005 and 2006 are expected to even more progress. Countries such as Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Zambia have made great strides on the percentage of children sleeping under ITNs. Ethiopia, a country with around nine million malaria infections each year, quadrupled the number of ITNs distributed from 1.8 million in 2004 to 8 million by the end of 2006. This year’s target: 20 million.

But challenges remain, including the challenge of reaching children in remote areas with the prevention, testing and treatment that they need. Then there is the funding gap. An estimated US$ 3.2 billion is needed worldwide each year to fund the fight against malaria in the countries with the highest disease burden – US$ 1.9 billion for Africa alone. While funding has increased over the past decade, thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US President’s Initiative, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, estimates suggest that international funding for malaria control stood at only around US$ 600 million in 2004.

UNICEF is not only calling for greater resources for malaria control, but also for an integrated approach to combat the disease. Malaria control should be part of integrated, community-based health programmes. UNICEF supports integrated child survival programming, including ITN distribution alongside measles vaccination campaigns and routine immunization and as part of antenatal care and early detection and improved treatment through the integrated management of childhood illnesses, looking at the health needs of the child as a whole, rather than focusing on one specific health issue.

UNICEF works closely with national governments and with partnerships such as Malaria no More and Roll Back Malaria to scale up the availability of ITNs and ACTs and ensure that malaria is high on every national health agenda.

UNICEF is the world’s largest procurer and deliverer of ITNs, with over 24 million ITNs procured in 2006. More than 90 per cent of these were long-lasting, requiring no re-treatment.

For further information, please contact:

Angela Hawke, Press Officer, UNICEF NY: Tel + 1 212-326-7269; email ahawke@unicef.org

Jessica Malter, Press Officer, UNICEF New York: Tel +1 212-326-7412; email jmalter@unicef.org

Related press releases and news notes:

28 March 2007 – Spread the Net purchases 33,000 anti-malarial bed nets for Liberia 1

27 November 2006 – Fight against Malaria – A priority in Guinea-Bissau 2

9 November 2006 – Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer launch anti-malarial bednet campaign:“Spread the Net” with UNICEF Canada 3

6 November 2006 – Serena Williams joins the fight against malaria in Ghana 4

28 September 2006 – Ethiopia can beat its biggest killer with historic push – UNICEF 5

8 July 2006 – Partners team up in Kenya to fights measles and malaria

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