Kikwete urges intensified efforts in malaria fight

DAR ES SALAAM: FORMER President Dr Jakaya Kikwete has called for intensified efforts in the fight against malaria in the country in order to attain the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) zero malaria target.

The fourth phase President said that despite the efforts being made by the government to eliminate the disease, the fight also requires concerted efforts among the communities.

He said End Malaria Council and Tanzanians in general should intensify efforts to eradicate the disease and ensure that the country is removed from the list of 11 countries in the world with high malaria infections and deaths.

Dr Kikwete said according to the latest report by the WHO, the list includes Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, India, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania.

Dr Kikwete who is also a member of the Global End Malaria Council made the call in Dar es Salaam yesterday while officiating at the third ordinary meeting of the council.

Expounding the magnitude of the problem, he said African region accounts for 94 per cent of malaria infections.

“The African region recorded 95 per cent of global malaria mortality…it’s a terrifying situation, we have the task to perform and increasing concerted efforts to fight the disease,” Dr Kikwete asserted.

He further added that children under 5 years accounted for about 78 per cent of all malaria deaths in the region.

According to WHO, globally in 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases and 608 000 deaths in 85 countries.

In 2022, the region was home to 94 per cent of malaria cases (233 million) and 95 per cent (580 000) of the disease related deaths.

Regarding End Malaria Council Tanzania, Dr Kikwete said he is optimistic that the council will enable Tanzania to be among the countries with zero malaria.

“If the region has three countries with zero malaria (Mauritius, Algeria and Cabo Verde), I hope this Council will enable the country to be certified malaria-free by the WHO,” he added.

He said there are three major interventions in malaria elimination, including Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), larvicide and using malaria curing medication – Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs)

“These interventions require financial resources and once we succeed there will be no malaria in the country,” he said.

In a related development, the former president said the task of developing new line of malaria vaccine for children under five is already completed by Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and WHO has already approved it.

“Fighting against malaria vectors will require multisectoral actions and the involvement of communities to sustain behavioural change and uptake of the tools concurrent with a robust research and development,” he said.

He also commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan for formulating the Council last year while stressing that the presence of the council is proof of the president’s commitment to eradicate malaria.

For his part, Chairman for End Malaria Council Tanzania, Engineer Leodegar Tenga said the Council has begun working on various issues to eradicate the disease, including hosting interfaith platforms to raise awareness.

“The council has already started the advocacy for collecting financial resources to fight malaria,” he said.

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