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| By Maureen Chigbo | Mar. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
IT IS described as the disease of the poor and a major development challenge in Africa. Official statistics shows that malaria kills more than 10,000 pregnant women and 200,000 of their infants every year in the continent. The burden of malaria is said to be heaviest in West Africa. In Africa, malaria has killed more people than all the wars in the continent combined with a child dying every 30 seconds from the scourge. It also accounts for around 40 percent of public health expenditure in endemic countries, and costs Africa some 12 billion US dollars in lost productivity.
This is why the continent especially the ECOWAS region, is cheery about the news of the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of three factories in West Africa to produce biolarvicides under the regional malaria elimination campaign programme that took place in Abidjan, February 28, during the 42nd ordinary summit of ECOWAS heads of state and government. The factories will produce malaria vectors that will attack anopheles mosquitoes which carry malaria parasites.
The three West African biolarvicide factories are to be located in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Rivers State, Nigeria with technical assistance of Cuba and the financial support of the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, under a tripartite agreement between the two countries and ECOWAS for the elimination of malaria in West Africa. The tripartite agreement signed in 2009 focuses on the strengthening of the vector control component of the region’s multi-sectoral malaria control strategy.
Prior to this, pilot programmes using the vector control in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Nigeria showed encouraging results with 75 per cent reduction in Accra over three years, a 63 per cent reduction in Port Harcourt, Rivers State over two years, while Ouagadougou, the Burkina Faso capital, recorded a 15 per cent reduction during 5 months of application.
The ceremony, which formally marked the beginning of the processes for the construction of the factories, included the unveiling of a plaque by President Alassane Outtara of Côte d'Ivoire, who is also chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS heads of state and Government, and Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, President of ECOWAS Commission.
Ouédraogo said the ceremony demonstrated the determination of regional leaders to win the war against malaria through the vector control programme that has been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as the only mode of intervention that can reduce malaria transmission from its present high level to zero. Ouédraogo also extolled the efficacy of the vector control component of the malaria control strategy and pledged the commission’s support to member states in implementing it in the spirit of its vision of a people-centred regional integration agenda.
The World Health Organisations, WHO, has recognised vector control which encompasses biolarviciding as one of the major effective strategies for malaria elimination.
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