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African Countries Need Billions to Maintain Malaria

Update Date: Apr 25, 2013 02:37 PM EDT

The dangers of malaria, which is transferred between mosquitoes and humans, plague the countries of Africa. Malaria occurs as a result of the transmission of deadly parasites that thrive in mosquitoes. There are currently no vaccinations available to protect against this deadly infection, which causes fevers, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. When it is left untreated or treated too late, malaria can lead to death and severe complications. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were a total of 219 million cases globally with 660,000 deaths in 2010. The majority of the deaths, 91 percent, occurred in the continent of Africa.  Due to the threats of malaria in Africa specifically, a group of African ministers of health met up at the African Union headquarters in commemoration of World Malaria Day.

Although researchers, scientists and health advocates are aware of the fact that malaria cases are severe and too frequent in Africa, finding ways of preventing the number of cases from increasing is stunted by the lack of finances. One of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals is to end Malaria by 2015. In order to even attempt to accomplish this goal, an estimated $26.9 billion would be needed in funding for the next three years. In the continent of Africa alone, health ministers stated that they needed at least seven billion dollars to maintain and eliminate malaria.

"We Africans must create [an] innovative domestic national health financing model.  We cannot and should not continue to rely on external funding for health. The experience of the last few years has shown that external funding are neither predictable nor assured," Mustapha Kaloko, the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs stated.

Kaloko is not the only person who believes that becoming too dependent on external funds will not help the fight against the disease. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, the executive director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, agreed that African countries must better prioritize the issue of Malaria.

"Malaria should come among the priorities. If that is the case then it would become easy really to find the resources within the government budget.  Malaria control interventions are not very expensive.  Rapid diagnosis tests costs 50 cents and the treatment for a child costs lest than a dollar.  Also, bed nets will costs between $3 to $6. If you bring all these three together, it's less than $10 to cover one person," she stated.

Due to the lack of funding, the African health ministers will continue to find alternative ways of controlling the disease during the four-day conference. Malaria deaths have significantly decreased within the African Continent, and if more can be done, malaria could soon be a disease of the past. 

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