New article credits malaria control for recent declines in African child mortality

November 1, 2010 by PATH

A new article published in Malaria Journal has linked Africa’s steep decline in malaria deaths during the past decade to the increased use of significant and effective interventions. The article, published October 27 and coauthored by two PATH staff members, establishes that achieving high coverage of malaria control interventions, especially insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and targeted indoor residual spraying, was a leading contributor to reduced child mortality in Africa from 2000 to 2009.

Authors Richard Steketee, science director of the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) at PATH, and Kent Campbell, director of PATH’s Malaria Control Program, reviewed data from 34 countries and found at least a threefold increase in households owning at least one ITN. In the ten countries with impact data from 2000 to 2009, the rates of illness and death due to malaria decreased steadily, and overall child mortality rates among children under age five typically declined by more than 20 percent.

These findings make it clear that global and national investments in malaria control have considerable and predictable health impact, and the “scale-up for impact” approach is a critical initial phase in the path to eliminating malaria transmission. Malaria control in Africa is cost effective and a good investment in terms of child survival, but the fight against the disease is a daily one, requiring vigilance at all levels. This article provides the evidence that a global commitment to the expansion and long-term investment in malaria control is required to initiate and sustain the health impact that malaria control is producing in Africa.

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