Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

1 February 2013

Namibia: Award for Preventing Malaria

Namibia was awarded the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Award for Excellence in Impact and Implementation in the fight against malaria. Namibia received the ALMA award for its contributions in the fight against Malaria, reducing malaria mortality by distributing mosquito nets treated with long-lasting insecticide.

At the luncheon in Addis Ababa of the alliance of African Heads of State and Government this week working to end malaria, UN Secretary General, Ban ki Moon, awarded President Pohamba the ALMA award for Excellence in Impact and Implementation in honour of the country's fight against the killer disease.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Secretary General highlighted that with increased support, more African countries can distribute nets as an effective prevention. In the countries where this strategy is followed, it has saved more than one million lives from 2003 to 2010.

According to Ban ki Moon, innovation has been essential to success as new diagnostic tools and combination malaria medicines that are more accessible and more affordable than ever before have already been developed However, the Secretary General says the fight against malaria continues and the recent trends threaten the goal of reaching near-zero malaria deaths by the end of 2015."It is fine to talk about progress but I am here also to face the hard realities. Malaria still kills some 660,000 people every year. Most of the victims are not even five years old with the vast majority living in sub-Saharan Africa," he said. Ban Ki Moon appealed for more funds to protect a decade of progress from slipping away and to stop malaria from coming back to kill more victims.

Malaria transmission in Namibia is confined to the north-east where it is endemic and about 72% of the population of the country is at risk. The annual reported number of malaria cases in 2010 was 25,889 with 63 deaths.

The annual economic loss in Africa due to malaria is estimated to be US$12 billion. Namibia has made significant progress in the fight against the disease with the annual number of probable and confirmed malaria cases decreasing from 480,515 from 2001 to 2005, to only 25,889 cases in 2010. During the same period, a similar trend was observed in the confirmed malaria admissions and deaths: malaria admissions decreased from 29,059 to 1,957 and malaria deaths fell from 1,370 to 63. As such, the country has achieved the global target of more than 50% reduction in malaria infections since 2000.

Namibia also has removed tariffs on anti-malarial medicines, malaria diagnostics, insecticides, and spray pumps for indoor residual spraying. Namibia has also banned oral artemisinin-based monotherapies and is introducing a policy on Community Case Management of malaria. Namibia has done well in mobilising resources for malaria control, including those funds provided by the Global Fund.

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