London, 4 July 2013 - Yesterday saw the release of the National Audit Office (NAO) report on malaria. Malaria Consortium welcomes the report and is pleased that it comments on the urgent need to increase funding globally for the fight against malaria, funding to which the UK Department for International Development/UKaid (DFID) is already one of the leading contributors. It reflects the well-demonstrated reality that gaps or delays in funding will lead to a rapid and severe resurgence of the disease.
The report highlights many of the success stories for malaria control and the cost effectiveness of malaria interventions such as insecticide treated nets, medicines and preventive treatments for pregnant women and young children.
It also notes that DFID “has provided 5.3 million bed nets, increasing the number of households owning a net by an average of 23 percentage points. However, usage of bed nets in targeted groups such as young children increased by just six percentage points.”
Malaria Consortium’s work has shown that such a low success rate is not always the case. In Nigeria, a country with an estimated 170 million people, achievement in ownership and use of long lasting insecticide nets (LLINs) are best appreciated when looked at in light of 2008 baselines at the commencement of the most recent scale up efforts.
Through the collective efforts of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, over 57 million LLINs have been distributed to households across the country, 2.5 million of which have been funded directly by DFID.
Findings from national surveys indicate a rise in household ownership of at least one insecticide treated net from eight percent in 2008* to 42 percent in 2010. It is noteworthy that household LLIN ownership was higher in DFID programme supported states, 50.4 percent**.
The number of children under 5 sleeping under LLINs has also substantially increased from a baseline of 5.5 percent in 2008 to 28.9 percent***.
Mosquito nets remain one of the most effective means of preventing malaria. LLINs are being promoted by the World Health Organisation and Roll Back Malaria partners as a cost effective and sustainable method for protection against malaria. There is also now a wealth of documented evidence and consensus that systematic scale-up of LLIN coverage in African countries leads to a reduction of deaths of children under five.
Malaria Consortium’s Chief Executive, Charles Nelson, comments:
“The combination of preventive approaches, accurate diagnosis, timely and appropriate treatment and continued surveillance, tailored for each environment, remains the way ahead. Mosquito nets remain a critical part of this having been shown, as a single intervention, to prevent half of all cases and reduce child deaths by a fifth. Where distributions have been widespread and well-targeted, accompanied by effective behaviour change communications at all levels, the number of cases of malaria has dropped significantly. Therefore continued funding for interventions such as these are crucial in the fight against malaria.
“Although the NAO have highlighted only a small increase of net usage by children under the age of five, Malaria Consortium’s own work shows usage has increased significantly in countries where we work.
“It is clear, as the report notes, that the endemic countries must have an ever increasing role in future interventions, but this must be done with the continued support of the international malaria community. Only by addressing the current funding gap together will we be able to sustain and build on the excellent progress made to date.”
* National Population Commission (NPC), ‘The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) report’, 2008
** NPC/National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), ‘Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS), 2010
*** NPC/NMCP, ‘NMIS Survey Report’ 2010
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