Geneva — With the Central African Republic facing conflict and instability, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have signed a grant agreement to combat a malaria crisis gripping the country.
The grant for € 15 million will enable the distribution of over 2.3 million mosquito nets across the country to reach an estimated population of 4.8 million people. The grant will also allow better access to diagnosis and treatment.
Recent upheaval in the country led to many hospital and medical centres being damaged, leaving thousands without access to healthcare. The potential for further violence has resulted in many aid agencies withdrawing from the country, enhancing the vulnerability of the population.
"There is no doubt that the Central African Republic is in the midst of a humanitarian emergency," said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC. "The recent instability and violence in this country has exposed millions to the risks of malnutrition and preventable diseases such as malaria. The support from the Global Fund gives us an important opportunity to tackle this growing risk. Malaria remains the leading killer in the Central African Republic. This project will prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths and benefit the entire population by providing them with the means to protect themselves against malaria," he added.
The number of cases of malaria in the northwest of the country has almost doubled in the past year, partly because of insecurity caused by armed groups operating in the area. Malaria accounted for 70 per cent of all pediatric deaths from May to July 2013 in the region, according to a recent assessment by a non-governmental organization.
The Central African Republic's government, the Country Coordinating Mechanism, and technical partners in the country, including UNICEF, African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) worked together with the IFRC and the Global Fund to see that the grant could be implemented successfully. "Working together with the IFRC in the Central African Republic is a great step forward," said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "Not only will the funding support prevention, diagnosis and treatment, it will also enable us to collect more data about the spread of malaria to inform the new funding model when it starts in 2014."
Geleta added: "There is a real concern that the people of the Central African Republic have effectively been abandoned when they most need help. We need to step in before this malaria crisis worsens."