• Wednesday, April 17, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Climate change could increase threat of malaria – experts

Climate change could increase threat of malaria – experts

Despite Nigeria’s tremendous progress in fighting malaria, 97 percent of its population are still at risk and malaria experts are very concerned that climate change could increase the threat of malaria in central African countries, according to a new report issued at an RBM Partnership to End Malaria conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

These experts say surveillance and programme delivery is needed to improve the drive for progress, and believing that halving malaria deaths is more achievable than elimination by 2030.

“Progress against malaria has stalled, and we need a renewed sense of urgency – and funding to accelerate the fight against this devastating disease,” said Kolawole Maxwell, West and Central Africa programmes director for Malaria Consortium.

Maxwell said in Central Africa and beyond, “we need to boost domestic funding, build stronger malaria surveillance systems, and enhance operational research and the development of new tools.”

Read also: One in every four children dies of malaria in A/Ibom

However, the report was the latest extension of the Malaria Futures for Africa (MalaFA) study commissioned by Novartis, which has already conducted similar research across 15 countries, including Nigeria, to survey African malaria stakeholders on progress and challenges towards global malaria targets.

“In Africa, there are still over 200 million cases of malaria every year, and over 400,000 deaths, mostly young children,” said Parfait Touré, head, Access Programmes, West and Central Africa for Novartis Social Business.

According to Touré, this research shows there are many challenges still to be overcome. But ensuring the voices of those at the front line are heard is essential.

The new report involved interviews with 23 politicians, senior civil servants, malaria programme directors, researchers and NGOs in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. All four are countries that have a significant malaria burden and differing policies in place to fight the disease.

In Rwanda, respondents were mainly positive about the country’s fight against the disease, citing high levels of political support and funding. In Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo respondents shared the view that halving deaths by 2030 was more achievable than elimination.

Respondents in Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo were concerned about access to health services, inadequately trained personnel, substandard or falsified anti-malarials and self-treatment without diagnosis – which could potentially accelerate development of resistance to treatment. These concerns are shared in many other countries previously surveyed.

“Maintaining momentum against malaria requires strong political leadership, resilient health systems and securing additional resources. The pledges made at the recent Global Fund replenishment are heartening signs that critical resources are forthcoming,” said Richard Nchabi Kamwi, ambassador for the Elimination 8 countries and a co-chair of the study.