Sunday, December 01, 2013

Malaria remains a public concern - Dr Kasonde
By Fridah Nkonde
Sat 19 Oct. 2013, 14:01 CAT

HEALTH minister Joseph Kasonde says malaria has continued to be a disease of public concern despite investing so much to fight it.

During the launch of 'Power of One' malaria treatment campaign in Lusaka on Thursday, Dr Kasonde, who was represented by Diseases Control, Surveillance and Research acting director Dr Max Bweupe, said in Zambia, children under the age of five were among the most vulnerable groups affected by malaria.

"There is need to adequately test and treat children under the age of five. Malaria in Zambia accounts for a large number of outpatients. Malaria is a serious disease but can be treated if diagnosed early,' Dr Kasonde said.

He said the government was working hard to avoid loss of lives by ensuring that there are no stockouts of anti-malarial drugs.
Dr Kasonde said his ministry and the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health were aiming to ensure that all health centres have proper equipment.

And Novartis Malaria Initiative executive vice-president Dr Linus Igwemezie said Novartis last year alone reached more than 1.2 billion patients with their medicines and vaccines.

Dr Igwemezie said Novartis had supported over 100 million people through their various access-to-medicine programmes, most of whom were malaria patients.

"Novartis has been able to provide more than 600 million treatments of its anti-malarial Coartem to patients in need, including 200 million treatments for children. I am thrilled that Zambia is the initial focus of Malaria No More's newly-launched Power of One campaign. We are proud to be able to help the country step up national effort and achieve universal coverage of testing and treatment," said Dr Igwemezie.

He said in previous years, their scientists had discovered two new classes of anti-malarials, which if successfully developed would provide a completely new option to treat the disease.

And Malaria No More chief executive officer Martin Edlund said there was need for more organisations to invest in the fight against malaria.
Edlund said it was evident that Zambia had taken bold steps in the fight against malaria.

Meanwhile, Alere vice-president Mike Musgnug said drug resistance was another grave public health concern.

"We should avoid over-using drugs because over-use of drugs leads to resistance. If a child has malaria, give that child some drugs but if a child has no malaria don't give that child any drugs," said Musgnug.

Later in the day, Novartis, Malaria No More and Alere visited Waterfalls Rural Health Centre for 'inaugural' Power of One treament distribution.

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