ALMA is a body of African Heads of State and Government working to end malaria-related deaths on the continent. According to the World Malaria Report, there were 216 million cases of malaria in 2010, which caused an estimated 655,000 deaths.
The disease claims about 60,000 lives annually in Tanzania. In Africa a child dies of malaria every minute and the disease accounts for approximately 22 per cent of all childhood deaths. Reports now show that malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than a third in Africa and over a quarter globally since 2000.
Most deaths occur among children under five. The decline is attributed to measures taken to slow down or prevent the spread of disease and to protect individuals in areas where malaria is endemic. Some of these methods include preventive drugs, mosquito eradication and the prevention of mosquito bites.
Experts say that the treatment of malaria is by far the most expensive method of fighting the disease. Prevention of malaria will be more cost-effective than treatment. But some have also argued that societies like Tanzania are too poor to meet capital costs for preventive measures.
Yet issues like getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds, which we think is the most effective way to fight against the spread of malaria, is not something that is necessarily capital intensive. Communities simply have to change their ways and act collectively to keep their environment clean at all times.
For, all other efforts may eventually prove futile if the people who suffer the most from the disease are not involved in fighting it in their own areas of residence, work or socialization. The public should understand that it has a role to play in mosquito eradication and thus malaria eradication.
Let us call it taking the fight to the mosquitoes' turf, and it really makes sense. If you think about it, the use of bed nets, which is getting all the attention under the current anti-malaria campaign, is too limited, because it only covers us when we go to bed. That may be fine with infants and, to some extent, mothers, but it leaves the rest of the population wide open for the substantial part of the night spent out of bed.
Destroying and spraying mosquito breeding grounds will take the fight against malaria to the root of the problem and speed up gains already recorded in many parts of the country and eradicate the disease in Zanzibar, where it has declined to low levels. It is possible to eradicate malaria, even before 2015, if the entire society will rally behind measures initiated by the government with the support of the international community. The killer disease must be kicked out of Africa.