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Barnaby Phillips reports from a Nigerian village
The battle against malaria is making some progress
 real 28k

Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Africa tackles Malaria scourge
suspected malaria sufferer in Africa
Nets help protect people from mosquitoes
Events marking the first Africa Malaria Day are taking place across the continent focusing attention on efforts to combat the disease, which kills more than a million people every year, many of them children.

Mozambique has launched a new spraying campaign in rural areas, while the Kenyan government has announced it is removing the tax on sales of mosquito nets.

Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri said that 30% of hospital patients in Kenya have malaria and it costs the country $10m each year to fight the disease.

Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique are also expected to announce that import duties on mosquito nets will be abolished or substantially reduced.

This follows a similar move last year by Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Marking Malaria Day in Uganda, Health Minister Dr Crispus Kiyonga said about 70,000 Ugandans die of malaria each year, half of them children under five.

The World Health Organisation says 90% of malaria deaths are in Africa.

Several United Nations agencies, along with non-governmental organisations, are meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, with malaria one of the diseases being discussed.

Last year a UN-sponsored conference in Abuja declared a battle on infectious diseases in Africa as part of the continent's development strategy.

Zambia

In Zambia, malaria is by far and away the number one killer.

According to the Zambian Central Board of Health six million Zambians contracted malaria in 1999, while three million had HIV/Aids.

mosquito
Malaria is spread by mosquitos
And according to statistics compiled by the country's National Malaria control centre the number of deaths attributed to malaria has risen sharply over the last 20 years.

In 1980 there were 12 deaths for every 1,000 malaria patients admitted to clinics and hospitals. But now the number has increased to over 60 for every 1,000 patients.

The most vulnerable sections of the Zambian population are pregnant women and children, who account for at least 40% of malaria cases.

Programme

But attempts are being made to tackle the problem.

There is now an active malaria roll-back programme in place across the country which has been widely publicised in the media.

This includes spraying anti-mosquito chemicals, making anti-malarial drugs more available and distributing insecticide treated mosquito nets.

Proceeds from the sale of the nets go into a revolving fund for the purchase of more nets.

Copper mining companies have also invested heavily in anti-malaria programmes and have seen a marked decline in absenteeism from work as a result.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | Health
Aids compounds malaria problem
19 Apr 00 | Africa
Giant mosquito net unveiled
01 Feb 01 | Health
Mouthwash could tackle malaria
24 Feb 00 | Health
Malaria secrets uncovered
17 Jun 99 | Medical notes
Infectious disease
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