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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April 2004, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Campaign grows for Malaria drug
Malaria kills millions each year
Campaigners in Africa say governments, donor agencies and pharmaceutical firms must take action now to prevent a shortfall in malaria treatments.

They fear targets for eradicating the disease set by governments and health agencies at a summit in Nigeria four years ago may not be met.

The mosquito-born disease kills an estimated one million children a year.

The World Health Organisation, speaking on Africa Malaria Day, is advocating a new treatment - but it is expensive.

Nine-tenths of all fatalities from Malaria are in Africa, and it is second only to Aids in the list of the continent's killer diseases.

By next year, 60% of children across African should be sleeping under safe mosquito nets, according to a target set by the Abuja summit.

But many charities and other groups - including the World Health Organisation's Roll Back Malaria Campaign - say they do not believe the targets set at that summit will be met.

The biggest problem is that current therapies such as chloroquine are not working.

Powerful insecticide

Campaigners in some parts of Africa say that one of the most effective weapons against malaria - DDT - is being ignored by Western donors.

DDT is a powerful insecticide that was widely used on crops in Europe and North America until the 1970s.

But it kills birds and fish, and has been banned in the US since 1972.

WHO is advocating a new plant-based treatment - Artemisinin-based combination therapy, Act - which it describes as "highly effective".

But the treatment is expensive, costing up to 20 times as much as existing therapies.

WHO has called on governments and pharmaceutical companies to place large orders to guarantee supply of the treatment.

"Increased demand is the main factor that will drive down prices," said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, Director of Who's Roll Back Malaria campaign.

Battle over anti-malaria chemical
04 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature
08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes

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