By Lucy Osuizigbo
Lagos, – The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), has urged Nigeria Ghana and Kenya to double their malaria control efforts, to enable themjoining or gets closing to ranks of countries at the elimination stages by 2020.
Dr Charity Binka, Executive Secretary, AMMREN said this on Wednesday in statement in Lagos to mark World Malaria Day.
The Day is being commemorated every April 25 to highlight global efforts to control malaria and celebrate gains been made so far.
The theme for this year commemoration is entitled, ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’.
Binka said there was the need to ensure that malaria remained high on the political agenda of these countries, adding that statistics showed that malaria deaths had plunged by more than 60 per cent since 2000.
The executive secretary also said that malaria cases went up in a number of countries in 2016 in Africa.
According to her, half of the world still lives at risk from this preventable and treatable disease.
”Anti-malaria campaigners and experts have noted that the world has become a little bit complacent in dealing with the disease.
“The information is that over the last couple of years, signs emerged that progress was slowing down.
”In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria, five million more than the previous year.
”Every two minutes, a child still dies of malaria. In 2016, malaria cases rose for the first time in a decade and there were 216 million cases of malaria and 445,000 deaths.
”Africa accounts for over 90 per cent of global malaria cases and deaths.
“ Malaria costs African economy US$ 12 billion per year in direct loss and 1.3 per cent of lost annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.
“This situation calls for more action and a robust approach, including political leadership and financial investments which should be directed at dealing with the disease.
“There is also the need for new tools, including the malaria vaccine, to fight the disease, ” she said.
Binka congratulated African countries such as Egypt and Morocco which had been malaria free since 2000 including Algeria, which achieved the feat in 2016.
She also acknowledged the five African countries: Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, South Africa and Swaziland, identified as most likely to eliminate malaria by 2020.
“It is also gratifying that Algeria, Comoros, Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe have also been honoured this year by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance for leadership in scaling down malaria cases.
“As we all look up to these shining examples of countries that are making progress in the fight against malaria, AMMREN is urging Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to double the malaria control efforts.
‘’This is to ensure they join or at least get close to the ranks of countries at the elimination stages by 2020.
Binka said there was need to admit alternative medicine into the fight to wipe out malaria.
She said African countries could contribute to the global plan against malaria by developing local herbs to find another potent remedy for malaria.
“Artemisinin is a Chinese herb on which the whole world is depending to fight malaria. This is an indication that an African herb can also be developed to save our lives.
“In most African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, there are many plants which people use to treat fever.
“Surely, the older folks will be glad to reveal truth that has never been told about herbal malaria therapy, handed down through generations.”
AMMREN is made up of a group of African journalists and scientists leading a malaria advocacy agenda.