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WHO calls for robust intervention in the malaria fight

afrol News, 24 April - The UN health agency has urged all the malaria endemic countries to strive for universal and effective malaria control interventions, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director, Dr Luis Sambo said today as the world commemorates World Malaria Day under the theme: “Let Us Count Malaria Out”.

Dr Sambo said decisive action is critical in the expansion of malaria-free areas in Africa. “Financial resources, management and other systemic bottlenecks are impeding progress towards malaria control and eventual elimination,” he said.

He called for robust systems for data collection, analysis and effective dissemination in the malaria endemic countries, saying these are critical for informed decision-making and planning for appropriate response to malaria prevention and control efforts at both national and international levels.

Dr Sambo said some progress had so far been made in malaria prevention and control in the African region stating that since 2000, the ownership of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) by populations had increased.

However, he added that the implementation of the WHO-recommended Artemesinin based Combination Therapy (ACT) policy by countries still remained low, despite the fact that all 42 malaria endemic countries in the region had adopted the policy.

Dr Sambo has blamed the sluggish progress in coverage of key interventions currently below the target for universal coverage to a number of factors including weak health systems. He however also said that the increased political will and community involvement had led to the scaling up of interventions and a reduction of the malaria burden in some member states.

According to WHO’s 2008 World Malaria Report, the African Region accounts for 86 percent of the 247 million malaria episodes, and 91 percent of malaria related deaths worldwide. Young children, pregnant women, people living with HIV/AIDS, displaced and refugee communities are especially vulnerable, the report states.

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