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Denver 2003 Monday, 17 February, 2003, 09:04 GMT
Small investment would save children
Black, BBC

Child deaths in Africa could be cut by a quarter for as little as half a billion dollars a year, according to a leading malaria researcher.

Professor Chris Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says this relatively small sum of money would provide mosquito nets treated with insecticide to everyone in rural Africa, cutting malaria infection.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver.

It is thought between one and three million people die of malaria worldwide each year.

A number of studies by various research bodies including the World Health Organization have shown the benefits of bednets in reducing transmission of malaria.

Nets treated with insecticides kill mosquitoes and their most dramatic impact is in reducing childhood deaths overall by around 25%.

Wide benefit

But Professor Curtis says nets do not just benefit the individual user.

He told the BBC: "Our data has shown time and time again that treated nets are not just personal protection for the individual user; if they're used by nearly everyone in a village they kill a lot of mosquitoes and lower the risk for everyone."

About 90% of Africa's malaria cases occur in rural areas, and based on his research in several countries, Professor Curtis has now calculated the cost of supplying every African villager with bednets.

Manufactured locally, bought in bulk and distributed by dedicated teams, he has worked out that it would cost half a billion dollars a year to cover the continent.

The figure, he says, is the same amount of money that US citizens spend every year protecting their pets from biting insects.

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Professor Chris Curtis
"For every 1000 children protected by treated nets, you prevent 6 deaths a year"
Denver, BBC

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See also:

22 Nov 02 | Health
06 Nov 02 | Africa
18 Oct 01 | Health
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