World Malaria Day – Sunday 25th April 2010
Ethiopia - the well travelled road to a malaria-free future
In Ethiopia the number of people who die from malaria has been halved through the distribution of nearly 20 million insecticide-treated bed-nets and widespread use of drugs. The dramatic fall in deaths from a disease that killed one in four people in Ethiopia was possible with global fund support and, crucially, a small army of motivated health workers who have travelled the nation’s highways, taking full advantage of new road networks*.
A nationwide campaign protects the most vulnerable - women, children and the elderly. The programme is made possible by broadening outreach through the training of 30,000 health workers, mostly young women, who serve as health service extension workers (and are strong role models for young children). The extension workers have been mobilised to transfer health skills into the community and have created the necessary conditions for the community to change their life-style which is instrumental in the prevention and control of malaria.
Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Africa - 88% of deaths and 83% of malaria cases occur in Africa, south of the Sahara. When you look at the malaria epidemiology in Ethiopia, 75% of the land (areas below 2,000 metres above sea level) is malarious. These are fertile lowland areas suitable for agriculture and are inhabited by 50m people, which account for 68% of the total population. Ethiopia’s aim is to reduce the burden of malaria to such a level that it no longer presents a public health problem.
Controlling malaria is a key component of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially the reduction of poverty, of disease and of child mortality and the improvement of maternal health.
The cross-sector nature of malaria is evident in the fact that malaria transmission is seasonal in nature and coincides mostly with major planting and harvesting seasons, thereby aggravating economic losses. So in combating malaria, the goals and objectives are not only health sector bound, they heighten the political, economic and social development necessary to bring about growth and development.
Ethiopia to halve malaria by year end
The government of Ethiopia is fully committed to the objective of halving malaria between 2000 and 2010, as adopted in our fully-integrated national programme and is on target to do so before the end of this year and aims to achieve another 50% reduction by 2015.
The government policy includes giving priority to communicable diseases, offering free diagnosis, especially at lower health facility level, providing free anti-malarial drugs and free ITNs (Insecticide Treated Nets) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) of houses.
Our main strategy is vector control measures through ITNs and IRS mechanisms, epidemic prevention and control measures and early diagnosis and effective treatment.
Our national prevention and control methods enjoy the support of many stakeholders, including UNICEF, WHO, USAID/PMI – Presidential Malaria Initiative, the World Bank, UNITAID, among others.
*The malaria programme has benefited from increased access to communities, even in formerly remote areas, through a vast road-building programme that has taken place over the past twenty years.
The Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) announced last October that Ethiopia had set aside $987 million to build new roads and upgrade others during the 2009/10 (July-June) financial year.
Ethiopia has spent $3.6 billion over the past 10 years on building 101,359 km (62,940 miles) of asphalt and gravel roads.
For further information, please contact the Press Office on 0207 838 3880 or 07717 603163.