After Ebola, malaria next
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the “entire population” of Liberia is at risk of malaria infection. “The malaria epidemiology has been the same over the years in Liberia.
According to the Health Facility Survey of 2013 malaria still remains the leading cause of morbidity / mortality in Liberia responsible for at least 39% of all inpatients’ deaths and 55% of deaths among children under 5 years, with the entire population at risk of infection,” she said during her remarks at an international Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
An Executive Mansion dispatch said President Sirleaf told her colleagues and audience at the conference that Liberia, situated in a tropical equatorial belt in West Africa with significant rainfall during the May–October rainy season, has a population of 4.24 million people, and is divided into 15 counties.
But she said the Ebola outbreak paralyzed both economic and health care systems, and affected the most populous and high volume health facilities counties throughout the country.
Despite the challenges, the Liberian leader noted that the fight to control the spread of malaria has made gains over the last few years, stressing that the malaria prevalence rate among children under five is steadily decreasing by 66% in 2005 to 32% in 2009 and 28% in 2011.
She said it reflects the impact of malaria prevention and control interventions implemented by national program here with support from partners which include the distribution LLINs, indoor residual spraying campaigns, advocacy for the use of ACTs and health education at community and facility level.
“Liberia just achieved universal coverage of LLINs this last month when we completed our own universal coverage campaign,” she said, indicating that while Ebola greatly stretched Liberia’s resources and systems, the country benefitted from additional emergency funds from the Global Fund to help manage malaria during the outbreak.
“We are working to rebuild our health system and the continued commitment of traditional donors is essential in the fight against malaria, and it will be essential for us all to support the Global Fund replenishment which will take place next year.”
She lauded the significant contributions from other donors including PMI, DFID, UNITAID and the Gates Foundation, saying country bottom-up gap analysis from Africa indicates that around US$ 10.5 billion is required over the next three years to implement national malaria control and elimination plans.
But she said the good news is that nearly US$ 6 billion is reported to have been secured already, including significant commitments through the Global Fund New Funding Model.
“We believe this gap will be reduced further as we exploit efficiencies and flexibilities in the Global Fund,” she noted.
The Liberian leader further added that increased domestic resources were essential if malaria is to be effectively controlled and eliminated from Africa.