Sep 10, 2008, 4:53 AM
As 5th Malaria Conference Opens in Kenya
The world's largest malaria conference was on Sunday evening opened by Kenya's Vice- President, Dr. Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre with a call for substantial and sustained support for research to guide evidence- based policies and the development of new malaria tools, which together could save countless lives.
The conference brings together 2,000 researches, health officials, policy-makers and activists from Africa and the world on the theme, "Building Knowledge for Action."
In his opening remarks, Dr. Musyoka challenged African governments and development partners to honour their commitments, goals and elimination of deaths due to malaria by 2015, stressing that research is the key to helping the African continent find homegrown solutions to the scourges of malaria.
"I challenge you to find new ways to deal with resistance to malaria medicines and insecticides for vector control and to develop innovations that will make our desire for a continent-free of malaria a reality," Dr. Musyoka said.
He also called on the international community to make efforts in identifying sustainable ways of facilitating anti-malaria interventions, notably provision of insecticide treated bed-nets to all who could not benefit from it.
He pointed out that the use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and the adoption of combination treatments to fight the problems of resistance have given Africa hope that malaria can be eliminated, adding that innovations and inventions, such as the malaria vaccine may soon be available to add to the arsenal of malaria control and prevention tools.
"Indeed several countries in Southern Africa, Zanzibar, Mauritius and The Gambia are clearly on the path to malaria elimination through the effective implementation of malaria prevention and control," he stated.
In her welcoming address, Kenya's Minister of Public Health and Sanitation, Hon Beth Mugo who is also the MP for Dagoreti said reduction in funding levels for malaria control will no doubt have devastating effects in the sub-Saharan Africa.
According to her, this will lead to disease resurgence, epidemics and reversal of documented gains which would be worse, compared to what was witnessed during the failed global eradication campaigns of the 1950s, the effect of which was felt in the 1970s and 80s.
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Adrian J.F. Luty, Senior Researcher at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, the Netherlands and Chair of the Conference Scientific Committee stated that one of the key goals of the conference is to strengthen African research capacity to guide policies for malaria control, and to develop new tools for malaria prevention and control.