Dr Sambo urges increased community engagement for malaria prevention and control

Dr Sambo urges increased community engagement for malaria prevention and control

Brazzaville, 25 April 2010 – WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, on Sunday made a passionate appeal for increased engagement of communities to support ongoing malaria prevention and control efforts, and its eventual elimination as a major public health problem in the African Region.
“I call upon every African community to assume leadership in the fight against malaria … each one of us has a role to play in this drive… communities must act to protect themselves from malaria”, the Regional Director said in his message to mark World Malaria Day, ob-served on 25 April since 2008.
Dr Sambo stated that particular attention needed to be focused on communities where children, women and people living with HIV/AIDS were especially vulnerable. He also called for increased emphasis to be placed on the day-to-day involvement of families, school children, teachers, youths, women, men and civil society organizations.

On the role of the larger society in the anti-malaria fight, he said: “Politicians, par-liamentarians, governments, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations and the mass media must engage to support community-based interventions. Calling for advocacy at all levels, the Regional Director added: “We need engagement of champions from all walks of life including the arts, culture and sports arenas to disseminate positive messages to combat malaria”.

Dr Sambo outlined six action points that should underpin community engagement in the fight against the disease. These are:

ensuring community ownership and participation including contribution to human and financial resources and strengthening of alliances to fight malaria;
building upon local knowledge and experiences, especially in environmental protection and management for disease prevention;
involving all families and community leaders in local development initiatives;
focusing on prevention while establishing enabling conditions for prompt referral of febrile cases to district health facilities by caregivers at household level;
working with and supporting community health workers, and
strengthening capacity for monitoring service accessibility, quality and uptake at community level.
He indicated that collective and coordinated action by all stakeholders was imperative to ensure delivery of quality community-based interventions; improved access to commodities and services, and the scaling up of interventions such as the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) of malaria in pregnancy, indoor residual spraying (IRS) and prompt diagnosis and treatment of febrile cases.

To this end, he re-interated his previous appeals to governments to allocate adequate resources to the health sector, particularly to health systems strengthening and improving the delivery of community-based interventions.

Dr Sambo pledged that, WHO, for its part, would continue to provide guidance on appropriate malaria control policies and interventions, and intensify technical support to countries in partnership with multilateral and bilateral organizations as well as other members of the international health and development community.

Malaria exerts a disproportionate burden on the African Region which accounts for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide. Still, significant progress has been made in delivering life-saving malaria nets and treatments over the last few years, but the coverage of malaria programme needs to be stepped up drastically in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The latest World Malaria Report issued in 2009 says that the increase in international funding commitments (US$1.7 billion in 2009 compared to US$730 million in 2006) had allowed a dramatic scale up of malaria control interventions in several countries, along with measurable reductions in malaria burden.

In 2008, according to the report, 31% of households owned an ITN compared with 17% in 2006. Also, 24% of children under five years used an ITN. As a result of increased use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying with insecticides, intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnant women, prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnant women and prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria cases with artemisinin-based combination therapy, ten countries in the Region were able to reduce malaria cases by at least 50% between 2000 and 2008.

For more information, please contact:

Technical contact : Dr Georges Alfred Ki-Zerbo Tel : + 47- 241-39295 E-mail:  Kizerbog [at] afro.who.int
Media contact : Samuel T Ajibola, Tel: + 47 241 39378 E-mail: ajibolas [at] afro.who.int