Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Malaria in Ethiopia

In 2005, US President George W. Bush instituted the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) to "fight malaria in the region most affected by the disease. The President committed. . . $1.2 billion in malaria funding to this Initiative with the goal of reducing malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 15 focus countries", including Ethiopia.

Five years later the PMI is still going strong. On the 26th of April 2010, "[t]housands of Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets, or mosquito bed-nettings, were handed out by a U.S. Army Civil Affairs team to the people" in malaria-endemic regions of Ethiopia.

"We are distributing 35,000 nets to a population of approximately 93,000 people," said Lieutenant Daniel Deckard, commander of the Civil Affairs team, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. "That's approximately two nets per household," he said.

The distributed nets are treated with insecticides to repel and kill mosquitoes in addition to serving as a physical barrier between humans and flying insects. Insecticide treated nets are estimated to be twice as effective as standard nets and may reduce malaria transmission by up to seventy percent (when used correctly). Participants in the PMI not only distribute nets, they are also "properly installing the nets in optimal locations within homes and are giving directions and other vital information to homeowners about proper use to minimize possible hazards and maximize protection" against malaria.

Malaria "is one of the leading causes of the deaths of pregnant women and children under five years of age in Africa. . .Malaria is a blood-borne infection caused by parasites and transmitted to people by the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes, which are active from dusk to dawn, according to the PMI website. Malaria usually begins as a flu-like illness with fever and chills. Mild to moderate anemia is also common because the malaria parasite infects and destroys red blood cells."

Untreated, malaria may cause severe anemia, organ failure, coma, and death.

Based on the annual reports (reporting began in 2006), malaria relief efforts are producing results. For example:
* Zambia has seen a 10% decrease in malaria cases
* In Rwanda, child mortality rate has dropped from 168 deaths/1,000 to 119 deaths/1,000
* Infant mortality rate in Tanzania has also dropped

The initiative expects to see similar or better improvements in Ethiopia.


Barnett, Robert. "Fighting Malaria in Ethiopia". The Ethiopian Review. 4 May 2010. http://www.ethiopianreview.com/articles/32007

PMI: Saving Lives in Africa. http://www.fightingmalaria.gov/

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