As the world commemorates the World Malaria Day on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), made up of a group of African journalists and scientists leading a malaria advocacy agenda, congratulates African countries such as Egypt and Morocco which have been malaria-free since 2,000 including Algeria, which achieved this feat in 2016.
AMMREN also acknowledges the five African countries, namely, Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, South Africa and Swaziland, which have been identified as most likely to eliminate malaria by 2020.
“It is also gratifying that Algeria, Comoros, Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe have also been honoured this year by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance for leadership in scaling down malaria cases,” says Dr. Charity Binka the AMMREN Executive Secretary.
She adds: “As we all look up to these shining examples of countries that are making progress in the fight against malaria, AMMREN is urging countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to double the malaria control efforts to ensure they join or at least get close to the ranks of countries at the elimination stages by 2020.”
Global efforts directed at eliminating malaria is said to have increased with statistics showing that malaria deaths have plunged by more than 60 percent since 2000, however in Africa malaria cases went up in a number of countries in 2016.
Anti-malaria campaigners and experts have noted that the world has become a little bit complacent in dealing with the disease. The information is that over the last couple of years, signs emerged that progress was slowing down. In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria, five million more than the previous year.
“This situation calls for more action and a robust approach including political leadership and financial investments, which should be directed at dealing with the disease. There is also the need for new tools, including the malaria vaccine to fight the disease,” stresses Binka.
AMMREN, an advocate of better malaria prevention and treatment for all, is helping to beat the killer by acknowledging and promoting the inclusion of alternative medicine in the campaign, she adds.
Binka further discloses: “Fortunately, in Ghana, the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders have set the scene by creating alternative medicine units in selected hospitals across the country.
“Today, we need not only ensure that malaria remains high on the political agenda. We must also rediscover the efficacious remedies used by our forebears to repel insects like mosquitoes and treat diseases including malaria.
“There are many insect-repellent plants being researched in Cameroon to know more about them. Even in Ghana there are plants whose smell and smoke do the same job.
“As we seek more pertinent, practical and indigenous ways to beat malaria, we must also seize the amazing job creation opportunities available by tasking and funding young chemistry and biology graduates to work in this area.
“Helping to beat malaria demands that we not only admit alternative medicine into the fight to wipe out malaria, but also allow it to play its merited role in the campaign.
“The global plan to contain the threat of mosquito-resistance to remedies has generated a frantic effort to develop new antimalarials to overcome resistance issues.
“It is crucial to expand the mix of efficacious therapies to be able to respond when it is necessary.
“AMMREN supports the opinion of researchers that we can contribute to this global plan against malaria by developing our local herbs and keep searching until we find another potent remedy for malaria.
“Artemisinin is a Chinese herb on which the whole world is depending to fight malaria. This is an indication that an African herb can also be developed to save our lives.
“In most African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, there are many plants which people use to treat fevers. Surely, the older folks would be glad to reveal truths that have never been told about herbal malaria therapy handed down through generations.
“The various departments of chemistry, pharmaceutics, and the Centre for Plant Medicine Research in Ghana, for instance, can collaborate and systematically develop an awesome malaria therapy given proper funding.
“Malaria can be defeated. Together we can win the war against malaria.”
Each year, April 25 is set aside as the World Malaria Day to highlight efforts to control malaria and celebrate the gains that have been made.
Since 2000, the world has reportedly made remarkable progress against malaria, saving millions of lives. However, half the world still lives at risk from the preventable and treatable disease, which costs a child’s life every two minutes.