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The Challenge for Malaria Control

Nov 3, 2009, 1:25 PM

The ongoing 5th Malaria Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, promises to be proactive in the sense that participants are already stressing the danger of reduction in funding levels for malaria control. It is feared that a reduction in funding would lead to disease resurgence. It would be like the failed global campaigns of the 1950s whose adverse effects were felt in the 1970s and 80s, they argue.

At least 2000 researchers, health officials, policymakers and activists from Africa are assembled in Kenya to figure out a way of surmounting this challenge. Working around the theme "Building Knowledge for Action," a most appropriate theme for such an issue, we expect that the participants will generate useful knowledge that will enable Africans to deal with the scourge of malaria once and for all. Given the fact that malaria is a major killer on the continent, it has to be tackled decisively; half measure will worsen the matter.

We have come a long way in the malaria control campaign; the use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and the adoption of combination treatments to fight the problems of resistance besides innovations and inventions such as malaria vaccines. All of these offer the hope that Africa could get rid of malaria for good.

But the fear about decline in funding level is real and ever present. With the economic meltdown showing no sign of abating, we note with concern that funding meant for malaria control could be slashed. If that happens, then our dream of making the continent malaria-free will simply be a mirage.

The immediate challenge facing the assembly in Kenya is to ensure that there is no depletion of funding. They should prevail on African governments and development partners to stick to their commitments and honour them without reservation. And as a matter of course, there should be fiscal discipline among African nations, with resources being allocated to areas that of top priority to national development such as health for example.

There is also a need for transparency and accountability on the part of stakeholders in the fight against malaria. Stakeholders should ensure that resources and funding are judiciously used for their designated purposes. If resources and finances are diverted into other areas or worse still, into personal accounts, then the entire campaign will flounder and fail.
We hope that the knowledge produced at the conference would help to avert this frightening scenario.

"Your prayers should be for a healthy mind in a healthy body."