Counting down to World Malaria Day 2009

rbm-sm.gifWith about 2 months and 3 days to go until World Malaria Day 2009 partners are encouraged by RBM to start preparing to tell their own stories “to show the international community how far it has come – and how far it needs to go to reach its global malaria response.” Our target now for 2010 is 100% – universal coverage – with hopes of bringing malaria deaths near zero by 2015.

Its good to set targets and timetables – just as long as these are realistic – and do not ultimately discourage people. Guinea worm was supposed to have been eradicated in 1995, but remains in Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo and Ivory Coast according to a BBC report in December.  Donor fatigue sets in.  And in these days of economic downturn, even if donors are not tired, their purses are not as deep.  Counting funds and resources also needs to be part of the RBM countdown.

Nigeria is a high burden country and a good place to keep watch on progress toward targets. The National Malaria Control Program and colleagues has been good at publishing progress.

buttonwhite_fr.gifIn both cases there were regional disparities – children in the south were more likely to sleep under a net than those in the north. This was not for lack of trying, since the recent article also documents net distribution in the study areas over a 12-month period.  It will be interesting how and if RBM partners will rally to help Nigeria double its net coverage rates in the next two years.

The Nigeria studies reported on number of children who slept under nets the night before the study, which is one of the key indicators of Roll Back Malaria success.  Counting alone will not be helpful in documenting progress towards universal coverage and eventual elimination unless all partners use standard measures. RBM’s Monitoring and Evaluation Reference Group has provided guidelines and toolkits, which all partners should read and use when reporting on their own progress.

When “Counting Malaria Out” on 25 April 2009, RBM encourages partners to, “Make 2009 the start of the countdown. Make the lives of every man, woman and child count as the international community intensifies its battle against malaria.” This will definitely require a well funded and coordinated effort.

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