Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Healthier Africa for African development

Health is very crucial for development achievements. Indeed, development is a people-achieved action and in the event poor health conditions prevail, development is threatened.

Malaria and HIV-AIDS are the main reasons for health related deaths in the world, reports the World Health Organization. Despite the fact that malaria can be prevented and treated, it kills more than 1 million people in the world and mostly in Africa. The equatorial and tropical zones, with intense rains are the most favorable environments for the vectors of malaria, known as anopheles. These mosquitoes (anopheles) transmit the disease by a simple bite.

Since two years and half that I have been living in South Africa, I never suffered from malaria despite my several trips back home to Kinshasa (DRC). I use to take measure such as preventive pills before and after traveling. My father, a medical doctor, always make sure that I do that. South Africa is not the ideal place to talk of malaria. Most South African regions are malaria free, except some few areas, thus the disease might not be given same amount of attention compared to central Africa where I come from.

In response to the ravages malaria causes to the humanity, some years back, the WHO has launched the global malaria programme, which is responsible for malaria policy and strategy formulation, as well as operations support, capacity development, and coordinated action to fight malaria. Beside that, other UN agencies such as the UNICEF also have their own frameworks to implements strategies and programmes against malaria. All these strategies plan to meet the Millennium Development Goal 6 (MDG), which aims at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Unfortunately, limited use of available research, poor monitoring and evaluation in some regions make any fight against malaria not effective as wished. Since 2001 for instance, the WHO demanded countries to change their strategies and switch to the ‘artemisinin-based combination therapies’ (ACTs), which combines some drugs together and better fight the disease. Despite such a requirement and a huge boost in health aid, many governments have not done better five years later.

Yesterday, the world joined Africa to celebrate its 6th malaria day which focused on how to provide universal access to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and call for these treatments to reach those who need them as quickly as possible. http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/amd2006/. We all hope that this issue will be given enough attention at global and national levels, mostly in countries that are most concerned. Otherwise we cannot make development happen!

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