– US Ambassador Elder
Christine Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia, has confirmed that malaria accounts for at least 42 percent of outpatients’ attendance and 44 percent of deaths among children under five at various health facilities in the country.
Amb. Elder’s statement was contained in remarks she made yesterday at a joint program marking the official launch of Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs) Distribution Campaign in commemoration of this year’s World Malaria Day, held in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
The ceremony was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in collaboration with Plan International, with funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is part of an ongoing Global Fund Malaria Program in the country.
The program was held under this year’s Global theme, “Ready to Beat Malaria,” with the local slogan, “Everywhere, Every Night, Sleep Under the Net.”
The U.S. female diplomat said Liberia has over the years recorded a million confirmed malaria cases every year, a situation that has now forced MoH authorities to diagnose the disease as the leading cause of child mortality in the country.
Ambassador Elder informed the gathering that malaria can affect anybody, “but the presence of its parasite can be reduced if people sleep inside a treated net every night and also get treatment from qualified health providers within 24-hours should they diagnose the fever in a person.
“I urge everyone to use bed nets to prevent malaria, to eradicate the disease, to also increase access to effective health services,” Amb. Elder said.
She indicated that the prevalence of mosquitoes in the Southeast counties of Liberia have six times more malaria than those in other counties, something she said portrays clear disparities in access to malaria prevention and treatment services.
Amb. Elder said the U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with other donor support groups, has empowered efforts of the Liberian health authorities to scale-up malaria prevention and treatment services by producing bed nets and diagnostic test kits.
Yesterday’s program, according to Dr. Ibrahim Kamara, Plan International Liberia Global Fund Malaria Program Chief of Party (COP), was held with the objective to distribute the nets and reduce deaths associated with malaria.
Dr. Kamara said besides the mass net distribution, Liberia health authorities, through the National Malaria Control Program, will continue the distribution routine of nets to pregnant women during their first Ante-Natal Care visit at a health facility, and also after giving birth.
Plan, as a developing partner, according to Dr. Kamara, started distribution of mosquito nets in 2016, with a grant support from Fund Malaria Program and other partners.
In his World Malaria Day Message, read by proxy Dr. Alex Gasasira, WHO-Liberia Representative, he said countries around the world have committed to end malaria epidemic by 2030.
Malaria, he said, up to date remains a major public health and development challenge as recorded in the 2017 World Malaria Report, which documented an increase in global malaria cases in 2016 as compared to 2015, with 197 million new cases in Africa and 410,000 deaths in 2016.
World Malaria Day is an occasion to renew political commitment and to continue investing in malaria prevention and control mechanisms.