Africa: Malaria Update, 05/05/00

Africa: Malaria Update, 05/05/00

Africa: Malaria Update

Date distributed (ymd): 000505

Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide

Issue Areas: +economy/development+

Summary Contents:

This posting contains two documents from the Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Africa, held in Abuja, Nigeria in April: the statement by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, and a press release on a new study estimating the economic damage caused by malaria to African countries.

A related posting today contains excerpts from the CIA National Intelligence Estimate (January 2000) which resulted in the determination that HIV/AIDS is a national security threat (also see article in The Washington Post, April 29, 2000).

Three recent books on the broader implications of African health issues are now featured in APIC's Africa Web Bookshop:

Jim Yong Kim, Joyce Millen, Alec Irwin, and John Gershman, Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor. ISBN: 1567511600. Common Courage Press, 2000.

Meredeth Turshen, Privatizing Health Services in Africa. ISBN: 0813525810. Rutgers University Press, 1999

Meredeth Turshen and Maureen Eke, African Women's Health. ISBN: 086543820X. Africa World Press, 2000.

To order go to or simply click on the links in the web version of this posting at

For additional background links see

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For further information please contact Gregory Hartl, WHO Press Spokesperson, WHO, Geneva, telephone: (+41 22) 791 4458, mobile + 41 79 293 6715, fax: (+41 22) 791 4858. E-mail: hartlg@who.intIn the U.S., Jim Palmer at +1 202 262-9823. In the U.K., Janice Muir or Amanda Barnes at +44 171 407 3313. In Abuja, Nigeria, Andy Seale at +234 9 523 0225. In Lagos, Chuddy Odueni at +234 1 497 0128. In Johannesburg, Kim Hudson at +27 11 480 8555.

All WHO press releases can be obtained on internet at


Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland


World Health Organization

Abuja, Nigeria 25 April 2000

Statement at the Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Africa

Honourable Mr President and heads of governments, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, your Excellency, for this extra-ordinary initiative - for bringing us together, to focus on health and development.

Before I became Director General of WHO in 1998 Africa's leaders told me that malaria undermines the development of their people. I was asked, several times, why the suffering and poverty caused by malaria was so often overlooked in development dialogue. I resolved that WHO should do much more to support Africa's efforts to control malaria.

Mr President

Professor Jeffrey Sachs has just presented to us his report on the economic effects of malaria. As I listened to him, I was struck by the enormity of the damage caused by this ancient disease. A loss of economic growth of more than one percentage point per year. A 20% reduction in GNP after 15 years. Short term benefits from malaria control of up to $12 billion each year. These are staggering numbers.

I conclude that Malaria is taking a big bite out of Africa's economic growth. For every year that malaria is left unchecked, it will cause African nations to fall further behind the rest of the world. But malaria is not just an African issue. Malaria and its economic impact threaten our stability as a global community and threaten the future of our increasingly global economy.

I do not accept a future with ever widening differences in the growth of nations. Together we must fight for a future free from the burdens of malaria

* If we can control malaria, we will see an acceleration of Africa's development

* If malarious areas are free of the disease, family incomes will rise

* If there is less malaria in homes, school attendance will increase - sometimes dramatically.

At yesterday's technical meeting, Africa's scientists told us of the tools needed to roll back this cause of suffering and poverty, to banish this obstacle to economic growth.

* Insecticide treated nets in the home reduce transmission and prevent infection.

* Indoor spraying with safe insecticides prevents infection.

* Treatment during pregnancy protects the mother's health and improves birth weight.

* Rapid diagnosis and early treatment of someone with malaria shorten the illness and reduce death rates.

These interventions appear simple. Ensuring their success is not. To be effective they must reach all at risk.

In many countries malaria has been a fact of life and death for so long that individuals, families, communities and institutions tolerate its burden. Outspoken commitment, vision and energy are essential to overcome this sense of fatalism and resignation surrounding malaria.

Your excellencies:

I am delighted that you have come here today to turn the tide.

Over the last two years, your Governments have joined forces with the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, with development agencies, research groups, non -governmental organisations and private corporations in starting to build a powerful movement. This is the movement to Roll Back Malaria. The spearhead for this movement is in Africa.

In more than 20 countries, malaria is now being tackled through all branches of government and with increasing involvement of the private sector.

However, much more remains to be done.

Malaria needs a high profile throughout African society. Everyone needs to realise the full impact of this disease, to agree on the goals, and to know how they can be realised in different settings.

We - the partners supporting the Roll Back Malaria Movement - must continue to support applied research to identify and apply the best anti-malaria therapies. This will help to counter the development of drug resistance. We need to find better ways to improve access to drugs, and to prevent counterfeiting. We need to work together to review taxes and tariffs on mosquito nets and other commodities. We need to coordinate the many contributions -- financial and technical -- of the Roll Back Malaria partners at country level. And, most importantly, we need to monitor achievements.

We need to involve the parts of the private sector that can help get goods and services to people. It has the distribution networks, the communications skill and the marketing resources. We would like private entities to be true partners in the movement. Several are already involved in the Medicines for Malaria venture.

In all this work, we count on you, the Heads of State and Governments, to lead us, so that we work together effectively in Rolling Back Malaria.

Mr President,

The turn of the century coincides with a remarkable shift in thinking about human development. I sense a growing realisation among decision-makers that to reduce poverty we must improve health. Illness - particularly malaria - keeps Africa's people and their nations poor. Bad health locks people into poverty. Healthy populations have better school attendance, higher incomes and more rapid economic development.

I anticipate that today we will agree an approach on rolling back malaria that also applies whether we are tackling tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, maternal ill-health, tobacco-related ill-health or other priority problems. It means:

* Information campaigns, to increase knowledge and understanding and empower people to act to improve their health

* Access to essential drugs, vaccines, and other commodities;

* Effective health services - close to the home; and

* A healthy environment - with clean water and sanitation

It certainly includes actions within communities, responsive to the needs of poor people, supported by all sectors of society.

We partners are working together to mobilise large increases in resources for health, to reduce the prices of drugs and commodities, to minimise tariffs and taxes on these goods, to support the discovery and development of effective drugs and vaccines, and to back-up effective action at country level.. These are all concrete and target-oriented actions. They bring results.

Mr President:

Your vision has brought us here today, to focus on malaria. But I am sure you would agree that poverty is our real enemy.

We now have an extraordinary window of opportunity.

We have Governments, international organizations, NGOs and the private sector ready to work together to achieve agreed health goals, and so contribute to prosperity.

We have a potential for dramatic increases in resources for health.

That means, the number of malaria deaths can be halved within ten years.

There will be further health gains. This summit will help us move forward.

The impact will be extraordinary. Africa will have stronger health systems, healthier populations and faster-growing economies.

Thank you.


25 April 2000

Economic Costs of Malaria Are Many Times Higher than Previously Estimated

Africa's GDP would be up to $100 billion greater this year if malaria had been eliminated years ago, according tonew research by Harvard, London School and WHO

Abuja, Nigeria -- The control of malaria in Africa would significantly increase the continent's economic productivity and the income of African families, according to the findings of a new report released today by the World Health Organization, Harvard University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"The evidence strongly suggests that malaria obstructs overall economic development in Africa," said Dr Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University. "Since 1990, the per person GDP in many sub-Saharan African countries has declined, and malaria is an important reason for this poor economic performance."

According to statistical estimates in the report, sub-Saharan Africa's GDP would be up to 32% greater this year if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago. This would represent up to $100 billion added to sub-Saharan Africa's current GDP of $300 billion. This extra $100 billion would be, by comparison, nearly five times greater than all development aid provided to Africa last year.

According to the report, malaria slows economic growth in Africa by up to 1.3% each year. This slowdown in economic growth due to malaria is over and above the more readily observed short run costs of the disease. Since sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is around $300 billion, the short-term benefits of malaria control can reasonably be estimated at between $3 billion and $12 billion per year.

"Malaria is hurting the living standards of Africans today and is also preventing the improvement of living standards for future generations," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization. "This is an unnecessary and preventable handicap on the continent's economic development."

The report also finds that:

* Malaria-free countries average three times higher GDP per person than malarious countries, even after controlling for government policy, geographical location, and other factors which impact on economic well-being.

* One healthy year of life is gained for every $1 to $8 spent on effectively treating malaria cases, which makes the malaria treatment as cost-effective a public health investment as measles vaccinations. This analysis, carried out by Dr Ann Mills, LSHTM, demonstrates that malaria control tools and intervention strategies provide good value for money.

"Malaria is taking costly bites out of Africa," said Dr David Nabarro, executive director at WHO. "It is feasting on the health and development of African children and it is draining the life out of African economies."

The report recommends that $1 billion annually be devoted to malaria prevention and control and that most of this expenditure be focused in Africa. This is many times greater than the amount which is currently being spent. It argues that spending this amount is economically justifiable as the short-term benefits of malaria control can reasonably be estimated at between $3 billion and $12 billion per year.

"The benefits of committing substantial new economic resources to malaria will greatly exceed the costs," said Sachs.

The findings of the report will be presented today at the first ever summit to focus on malaria. The heads of state of twenty African nations and the executive directors of the African Development Bank, World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO are expected to be present to hear the findings. The Summit is being hosted in Abuja, Nigeria by the country's president, His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, and is co-sponsored by WHO.

Malaria accounts for nearly one million deaths each year in Africa; an estimated 700,000 of these deaths are among children. Research has found that the wider availability and use of insecticide treated bednets would result in 50 percent less malaria illness among children. Yet presently, only 2% of African children are protected at night with a treated bednet.

"Roll Back Malaria aims to help African families create a mosquito free zone in the home through the use of nets, drapes, or bednets treated with insecticide," said Dr Awash Teklehaimanot, acting project manager for Roll Back Malaria. "Our goal is to ensure that every person at risk of malaria in Africa is protected with an insecticide-treated bednet within the next five years."

In addition to ensuring wider availability of treated nets, Roll Back Malaria is also working to provide greater access to rapid diagnosis and quick treatment with the appropriate therapies -- ideally in the home; preventing malaria illness during pregnancy; and detecting and responding to epidemics quickly.

"Halving the burden of malaria is realistic and achievable," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO. "We have the tools. We have the economic justification. We now need leaders from both the public and private sectors stepping forward to make this happen."


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 11:57:29 -0500

Subject: Africa: Malaria Update

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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