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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Zanzibar's battle with malaria
As Africa Malaria Day is being marked, the BBC's Tom Japanni reports on Zanzibar's relatively successful efforts to combat the disease which kills more Africans than any other.

Sheikh Makame holding his daughter
Sheikh Makame hopes the new drugs will cure his daughter
Biishe Ahmed is one of the 230,000 Zanzibaris to have been given an insecticide-treated bed net in recent years.

"These ones repel mosquitoes and so we've not had anymore cases of malaria," he says.

Malaria is the leading cause of death in Zanzibar, Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

The authorities here have done more to tackle the disease than many other African states, which have more vibrant economies.

Mosquitoes breed easily in the many rice fields on both Zanzibar and the smaller island of Pemba.

More than 90% of malaria cases are the most virulent strain, Plasmodium falciparum.

New drugs

Alongside the use of treated bed nets, the other main plank of Zanzibar's battle against malaria is the use of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACTs).

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Zanzibar's health service switched to ACTs in 2004, after growing resistance to chloroquine, previously the most commonly used drug.

At Wete district hospital, Sheikh Makame, recalls that once he was so sick with malaria that he had been unable to move.

"But when I was brought here and given ACT, I recovered fast. That's why I've brought my child who is also suffering from malaria."

Rice fields in Zanzibar
Mosquitoes breed in Zanzibar's rice fields

The man in charge of Zanzibar's fight against malaria, Abullahi Ali, says they want to distribute a further 70,000 treated bed nets, taking the total figure to 300,000.

Zanzibar's strategy to fight malaria was closely modelled on the World Health Organization's Roll Back Malaria initiative.

ACTs cost $2-$3 a dose - far more than chloroquine but the programme has been supported by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has pledged $6.1m.

The authorities hope that this money will help them to meet their 2008 targets of curing 80% of malaria cases and giving treated bed nets to 80% of all households, starting with those with pregnant woman and children under five.


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SEE ALSO:
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Hopes for cheaper malaria drug
12 Apr 06 |  Health
Resistance risk to malaria cure
19 Jan 06 |  Health
Regions and territories: Zanzibar
09 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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