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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

African leaders urged to renew commitment against malaria 

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on has underlined the need to renew the commitment towards eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030, which robs the continent of 12 billion U.S. dollars per year.

“Malaria alone is estimated to rob the continent of 12 billion U.S. dollars per year in lost productivity, investment and associated health care costs,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, said Friday on the sidelines of the 30th AU summit in Ethiopia.

“It is therefore critical that we sustain the political commitment, as articulated in our continental Agenda 2063, to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030 through increased domestic financing, increased access to life-saving malaria interventions, as well as more robust health systems,” he said.

Senior health, finance and foreign affairs officials from across the continent on Friday were briefed on the latest findings from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2017, which signaled that, for the first time in more than a decade, progress against malaria on the African continent has stalled.

Progress across Africa has been uneven, putting at risk the tremendous progress to-date and African leaders’ collective ambition to end the disease, said the report.

“In 2016, just 15 countries carried most of the global malaria burden, together accounting for 80 percent of all malaria cases and deaths. All but one of these countries are in Africa,” said Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program.

“The report sends a clear warning that we have stopped making progress and that, without urgent action, we risk going backwards,” said Alonso.

“African countries are at greatest risk of losing the significant gains made over a decade and must renew efforts to make fighting malaria a priority,” said Keseteberhan Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

The CEO urged African countries to urgently step up domestic funding for fighting malaria.

Participants also heard that high-burden countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which account for 27 percent and 10 percent of the global malaria cases respectively, also face significant gaps in financing over the next three years.

Nigeria faces a financial gap of 1.4 billion dollars, equivalent to 68 percent of the country’s needs, whereas DRC requires an additional 536 million dollars to fully implement its national malaria strategic plan.

While some African countries have seen a greater than 20 percent increase in malaria cases and deaths since 2016, others are showing that beating malaria is possible.

Alternatively, several African countries that have stepped up their efforts, such as Senegal and Madagascar, have achieved a greater than 20 percent decrease in malaria cases in 2016, according to the report.

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Six African countries win awards for significant progress against malaria

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Six African countries on Sunday won awards for remarkable achievements against malaria, as the continent is endeavoring towards a malaria-free Africa by 2030.

The countries were honored with the awards of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) within the framework of the 30th African Union (AU) summit at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The criteria of this year’s award focused on the impact reducing the malaria incidence and also the progress towards meeting the 2020 milestone of World Health Organization (WHO) Malaria Global Technical Strategy (GTS).

Madagascar, Senegal, Gambia, Zimbabwe were awarded for their achievements of reducing malaria cases by more than 20 percent between 2015 and 2016. Meanwhile, Algeria and the Comoros received the award as they are on the right track to achieve the GTS milestone for 2020 and reduce malaria incidence by at least 40 percent.

African leaders have committed to eliminating malaria by 2030, as articulated in the continental development Agenda 2063.

The malaria epidemic remains Africa’s major health care challenge, the AU and WHO said on Friday on the sidelines of the AU summit.

Malaria alone is estimated to rob the continent of 12 billion U.S. dollars per year in lost productivity, investment and associated health care costs, according to Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission.

The disease remains a global health problem with over 216 million cases and some 445,000 deaths every year, said WHO.

According to WHO’s World Malaria Report 2017, progress against malaria across Africa has been uneven, putting at risk the tremendous progress to-date and African leaders’ collective ambition to end the disease.

In 2016, 15 countries carried most of the global malaria burden, together accounting for 80 percent of all malaria cases and deaths, of which all but one are in Africa, according to WHO.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Global level of leprosy is alarming and unnecessary: UN expert

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- People affected by leprosy continue to suffer discrimination and lack of access to medical care, a newly appointed UN human rights expert said Thursday.

Special Rapporteur Alice Cruz, in a statement to mark World Leprosy Day on Jan. 28, cited the latest statistics that show more than 200,000 new leprosy cases a year.

“This level of serious disability is alarming and completely unnecessary,” said Cruz who explained that the disease can be cured.

“The fact that this is still happening in 2018 shows that there are delays in diagnosis and lack of access to high-quality treatment. Children are among those suffering unnecessarily,” she asserted.

Tackling social vulnerability is a key to reducing the transmission and prevalence of the disease, she said.

Leprosy remains a neglected disease, with the highest number of cases in India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Cruz said, “In countries where leprosy is endemic, it is associated with social inequities and mainly affects poorer communities.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 22 priority countries where action is needed, including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Figures for 2016 show that 214,783 new cases of leprosy were reported, including 12,437 where people had suffered serious disabilities.

“The disease can be easily cured with multi-drug therapy if it is detected and treated early enough. Left untreated, it can cause severe immunological reactions that lead to disability and chronic pain.”

Cruz said discrimination is perpetuating people’s unnecessary suffering and it was essential to tackle the root causes.

“Too many people with leprosy remain trapped in a never-ending cycle of discrimination and disability,” she said.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium lepra that mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves says the UN.

The disease has a long incubation period and is not highly infectious and most persons who are in contact with leprosy do not contract it.

             

 

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