It seems that the news coming on the heels of World Malaria day is mostly good in terms of progress, but it’s tempered by bad news regarding the progress that has yet to be made. Take Sudan for instance.
With the help from the Global Fund, the UN Development Programme, and the WHO, Sudan’s national malaria programme has been able to reduce the number of malaria cases in the country from over seven million down to less than three million by 2014. And from 2009 to 2012, the number of deaths attributed to malaria decreased by 46 percent. That’s good news.
However, every year malaria is still the leading cause of death in children under five in the region. That’s bad news. Especially since the disease is endemic in nearly every state in the country and during the rainy season, malaria becomes epidemic in six of the 18 Sudanese states. More bad news.
Fortunately, the global fight against malaria has some pretty big organizations in its corner. One of the biggest is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which, incidentally, just gave $81 million to Sudan.
The Global Fund is a huge public-private organization born out of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s call for a worldwide fund to combat these three pandemic, yet preventable diseases that take the lives of millions of people annually. The Global Fund is sponsored by the wealthy governments around the world and has also partnered with the Gates Foundation and receives donations from wealthy individuals and other funders. And it’s the fund’s cultivation of its public-private partnerships that enable it to commit big numbers like the $81 million toward malaria prevention efforts in Sudan.
Sudan’s Ministry of Health will put the Global Fund’s multimillion dollar give to use by focusing on malaria prevention efforts. The ministry will work in conjunction with the UN Development Program (UNDP) and other local organizations to distribute 2.4 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to high-risk areas including Darfur, Krodofan, Blue Nile, and Gadarif.
The money will also go toward indoor residual spraying in Gazira and Sennar. Both are typical and easy-to-deploy malaria prevention treatments. But there are a few twists to how the Global Fund’s money is to be used.
For one, a heavy focus in this give is protecting pregnant women. To that end, over 250,000 pregnant women will receive LLINs. Another twist is the health care and surveillance angle of the grant.
On the health care side of things, the fund’s money will help to provide ACT drug treatment to over six million people; additional training to 1,500 health care providers and nurses; and additional training for 900 lab techs on malaria diagnosis.
On the surveillance side of things, a portion of the grant money will be used to strengthen malaria surveillance and response systems.
The overall plan for the Global Fund and Sudan’s Ministry of Health is to get to universal coverage of LLINs by next year (coverage currently stand at around 78 percent) with a particular focus on pregnant women, children under five, and rural populations.