Scourge of malaria threat continues

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The department of health is to present a new report during a multinational initiative on malaria, emphasising the country's phenomenal success in malaria control, a programme that spans more than 70 years.

A report says malaria, which was once common in urban centres such as Durban, has been pushed back to the border regions with Mozambique and Zimbabwe thanks to sustained investment in the programme.

Aside from saving lives, the disease control programme has opened up rural areas for economic development and lifted people out of poverty.

Eliminating the killer disease

The report explains that South Africa’s success can largely be attributed to the country’s community of well-trained malaria scientists and researchers backed by sustained funding from the government.

During the PanAfrican conference, to be held in Durban from 6 - 11 October, scientists from around the world will present the latest groundbreaking research on, among others, preventing, controlling and eliminating the killer disease and emerging resistance to drugs and insecticides.

Even as the malaria community celebrates 10 years of progress in driving down the unacceptable number of deaths from malaria, particularly of children in sub-Saharan Africa, threats to the success loom on the horizon.

Resurgence of malaria

Resistance by the malaria parasite to the most effective drugs and by mosquitoes to frontline insecticides (used in long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying), is spreading.

Donor funding for malaria has not increased and leading experts fear a repeat of what happened 50 years ago when donor fatigue and a lack of new tools resulted in a resurgence of malaria that took roughly a million lives a year in 2000.

The report says despite unprecedented advances, malaria continues to infect approximately 219 million people around the world every year.

Among the topics to be discussed are:

*  Malaria elimination and eradication;
*  New advancements in malaria vaccine development;
*  New advancements in malaria therapies;
*  Tracking growing resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies and an increasing counterfeit market for these drugs;
*  New tools for managing increasing resistance among mosquitoes to our best insecticides and
*  Using rapid diagnostic tests to identify malaria.

More information at The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) www.mimalaria.org/eng/;



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