New grant to support efforts to prevent and treat malaria in Guinea-BissauApr 7, 2016
Guinea-Bissau - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) today signed a EUR 16.4 million grant to prevent and treat malaria among the country’s most vulnerable populations, specifically pregnant women, children under five and health workers. The new grant will run until end of 2017 in partnership with the Government of Guinea Bissau.
Malaria represents a serious public health threat and is a significant cause of poverty in Guinea-Bissau, where the entire population is at risk of contracting the disease. In 2013, over 175,000 cases of malaria and 472 deaths were reported. Children under five years of age were disproportionately affected, representing around 41 percent of all cases and 45 percent of all deaths. The new grant supports the recently-adopted global Sustainable Development Goals, which, among other targets, aim to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, and to end the malaria epidemic by 2030.
The Government of Guinea-Bissau has chosen universal coverage of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets as one of the main strategies for prevention of malaria. With support from the Global Fund, mass distribution of mosquito nets was organized by UNICEF in 2011 and by UNDP and its partners in 2014. The distribution campaigns reached all households, orphanages, schools, hospitals, health centers, army barracks and prisons, among other institutions, contributing to a high availability of nets in households, their effective usage, and a significant reduction in malaria prevalence. Between 2012 and 2014, malaria rates decreased by more than 80 percent among adults and more than 90 percent among children under the age of five. The next mass distribution campaign will take place in 2017.
The Global Fund has supported the government’s efforts to prevent and treat malaria in Guinea-Bissau, since 2004. “This grant will go a long way in maintaining universal coverage of mosquito nets and providing malaria diagnosis and treatment for all Bissau-Guineans. Thanks to the support of all of the actors involved in the Global Fund partnership in Guinea-Bissau, this malaria grant will make an important contribution to further reductions in mortality among children under five”, said Tina Draser, Global Fund Regional Manager for Western Africa.
Access to information and education is also an important tool in the fight against malaria, and the grant will ramp up efforts in this respect. A recent survey found that gaps in the knowledge of malaria persist, for instance on how to prevent transmission, for how long insecticide-treated mosquito nets remain effective, and what pregnant women should do in case of symptoms.
Malaria places a serious burden on development gains, and UNDP is committed to working together with Guinea Bissau’s Ministry of Health to reduce the impact of the disease. “The 2014 campaign to distribute bed nets throughout the country shows that through a concerted effort, we can achieve tremendous results: 97 percent of the population now has access to a bed net, and both the targets of the roll back malaria (RBM) campaign and the Millennium Development Goal on health were achieved. We hope to maintain universal coverage through this new grant and tackle the very last mile,” said Maria Do Valle Ribeiro, the UN System Resident Coordinator.
The new Global Fund grant will provide an integrated approach to reducing the prevalence and incidence of malaria in the country. This includes improving health facilities at the community level to diagnose, test and treat patients, manage stocks and logistics, and collect and analyze data. Mass media campaigns will ensure that the population is fully informed on malaria prevention and treatment.
“The previous Global Fund malaria grants contributed to the reduction in the number of cases and deaths attributed to malaria in Guinea-Bissau. We are confident that with the new grant and the strong support of all partners we will achieve the objectives of the National Strategic Plan to Fight Malaria 2013-2017," said Dr. Paul Djata, Coordinator of the National Malaria Control Program.
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