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Why You Should Take Action Against Malaria 

By Ernest Sumelong

Everywhere in the country now, Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) are being distributed or community relay agents are conducting censuses of households and giving out vouchers. Over 8 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets have been transported to the various regions of the country for subsequent distribution.

This is part of a nationwide campaign dubbed “Scaling Up Malaria Control for impact in Cameroon”, which Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, launched on August 20, 2011. It aims at significantly curbing malaria in the country. Malaria has been identified to be the number killer disease worldwide as nearly a million people die of the disease every year and an African child dies of malaria every 45 seconds.

Meanwhile in Cameroon, 2000 people die of malaria every year, with the majority being children under five years. Among other things, malaria is the major cause of anaemia, miscarriage and premature birth. According to Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, malaria remains a major public health concern as it affects all segments of the population, with women and children being most vulnerable.

Minister Mama Fouda says: “In 2010, malaria accounted for 36 percent of medical consultations, 38 percent of cases of illness in pregnant women, 48 percent of hospitalisations, 24 percent of hospital mortality with 67 percent in children under five years. 40 percent of household spending is due to malaria”.

That is why, according to him, Government, in a bid to address the situation, created the National Programme for Malaria Control with units at the regional and district levels. Also, Government and its partners have been making efforts to reduce the malaria burden through the free distribution of Insecticide Treated-mosquito Nets to children and pregnant women, the introduction of free Intermittent Preventive Treatment during pregnancy, and the subvention of anti-malaria drugs etc.

It is in continuation of this fight against malaria that other strategies will be implemented in the next five years with the support of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Mama Fouda states. These strategies include increasing the use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets through a mass distribution campaign, in all households, and ensuring early and correct treatment of malaria cases.

It is for this reason, that government’s major partners in the country such as the Malaria Consortium-Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria (MC-CCAM), Plan Cameroon and IRESCO are all engaged in the anti-malaria campaign.

Malaria Prevention

Considering the enormous burden malaria places on household spending and the country’s health resources as a whole, stakeholders have been looking for means and ways of preventing the disease. For now, one of the most effective ways of preventing malaria, according to health experts, is sleeping under Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets every night. Thus, it is recommended that when members of households receive the nets being distributed, they should effectively use it.

Also, intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy reduces anaemia, miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, infant mortality and maternal deaths. Health experts also state that keeping the environment clean will stop mosquito breeding, consequently, reducing the rate of malaria transmission.

In countries where the people have effectively used Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets and other preventive methods, positive results have been recorded in curbing the disease. In Senegal, for instance, the number of confirmed cases of malaria dropped 41 percent in one year (between 2008 and 2009). Also, the number of malaria cases in children under five years dropped from 78,000 confirmed cases in 2008, to 30,000 in 2009. The lives of 26,800 children were also saved since 2001 by malaria control interventions.

Similar success stories were recorded in Eritrea and Sao Tome and Principe. It is also believed that if all Cameroonians take action by effectively using the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, consulting in case of symptoms of malaria and keeping surroundings clean, malaria prevalence would be greatly reduced.

With the support of IRESCO

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