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Malaria Remains Highest Killer In Sub Saharan Africa 

By Edith Wirdze

Malaria kills about one million people yearly in the world, 90 percent of them in Sub Saharan Africa. It kills one child every 30 seconds and causes 500 million illnesses a year, thereby reinforcing poverty.

In Cameroon, Malaria is responsible for 50 percent of causes of illness in children under five years, 40 percent of causes of death among children under five years, 40 to 45 percent of deaths recorded in hospitals and 40 percent of household spending. It leads to absenteeism in work places and schools as well as leads to a drop in productivity.

That is why malaria is termed the highest killer and most troublesome disease in Africa. It is in this perspective that the Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria, CCAM, and the "Roll Back Malaria", RBM Partnership Executive Board, recently launched the project: "Progress and Impact of the RBM Series" in Yaounde.

Presiding over the launch ceremony, Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, said, following malaria statistics, it is vital to implement sensitisation campaigns in order that the public is well informed about how to prevent and treat the disease. To lessen the burden of the disease, he said, the Cameroon Government has provided free treatment of uncomplicated malaria for children of five years and below. In addition, he said, there is the on-going free distribution of treated mosquito nets to pregnant women.

Highlighting the RBM project, the Executive Director of CCAM, Prof. Rose Leke, said, despite the success realised in the fight against malaria for the past two years, there is still so much to be done to subsequently eliminate the disease, considering its statistics. Following the burden of malaria, she said, the struggle towards establishing a society free of malaria has to be reinforced. That is why, she said, they were launching six reports to analyse the progress and impact of the RBM series. 

She appreciated the Global Malaria Action Plan, GMAP, and expressed the wish for it to be well implemented in order to eradicate the disease in the long term. Representing the RBM Partnership Executive Board, Dr. Esther Tallah highlighted the value of the GMAP as a road map in fighting malaria in both the short and long terms.

She indicated that the plan includes all endemic countries to ensure that local gains would not be lost because of reintroduction of the disease from other areas, since anti-malaria tools would be employed on a much larger scale at the global level. She stated that the GMAP calls for a collective responsibility towards reducing the malaria burden and eliminating it.

Deploying the GMAP, she said, "will help the world meet MDGs, such as reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV-AIDS and eradicating extreme poverty".
To reinforce the battle against malaria, projects such as the "NightWatch" will be introduced for the first time this July where millions of families are expected to receive long-lasting insecticidal nets.

Since some people who have mosquito nets do not even use it, "NightWatch" is a nightly mosquito net reminder campaign aimed at promoting families to use mosquito nets. This project will involve the broadcast of messages at 9pm over the radio, television and telephone SMS to remind people to use nets.

The campaign, with the support of some private companies such as COTCO and MTN Cameroon, will involve stars such as Youssou Ndour, R. Kelly, Alexander Song, Luc Mbah a Moute, Lady Ponce, Richard Bona, Akon, El-Hadji Diouf, Rafiya, Fally Ipupa and Les Nubians to reinforce the underlined message on the use of nets and other sanitary behaviour that are required to drive away mosquitoes.

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