Journalists can reduce the impact of malaria

By Arsénio Manhice, Mozambique

Journalists can contribute to reduce the burden of malaria if they assume their role and spread continually information about how to prevent and threat malaria, particularly in South Africa, announced Dr. Aziza Mwisongo, Indepth Effectiveness and Safety of Anti-malarial Drugs in Africa (INESS) Project Manager speaking to Journalists. Dr. Aziza Mwsisongo was speaking in a three-day media sensitization workshop on INESS held in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, from 18th to 20th March 2010.

In the meeting, the Journalists noted that with concerted efforts from all stakeholders such as Scientists, Journalists, Governments and Non-governmental Organisations malaria can become a disease of the past.

This comes in a communiqué of the workshop promoted under the Indepth Network project in collaboration with the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN).

During the meeting, the Journalists noted that ten years after, the Declaration adopted by African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2000, is not moving ahead. In their Declaration, the leaders agreed, besides other goals, that by 2010 80% of children under-five and pregnant women will sleep in ITNs, 80% children under five with fever will have prompt access to care, 25% of childhood fevers will be correctly managed using IMCI.

“These targets have not been met. However, with concerted efforts from all stakeholders, malaria will become a disease of the past”, announced Journalists at the end of the workshop.

However, the journalists from Burkina Faso, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania applaud the efforts being made by INDEPTH Network and Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA) for setting up various investigative sites in Africa to fight malaria.

At the moment, INESS is already carrying out studies in Tanzania and Ghana and will be expanding to other African countries such as Mozambique and Burkina Faso.

To reach the goals, the roll of the media is strategic as emphasized Dr. Gabriel Upunda, the Guest of Honor of the workshop on his opening speech. “The world needs your efforts. The health of the children and pregnant women suffering around Africa only can change if you keep spreading accurate information about malaria”, he said.

According him, more has done to roll back malaria using anti-malarial drugs but he believe that Africa need to do more. “I will not congratulate you because of this network. This is not because you are not implementing good activities. It’s because you still need to use your tools to contribute to reduce malaria”, he explained.

On her remarks, Mrs. Charity Binka, Executive Secretary of Ammren assumed that the networks is ready to give its contribute to fight malaria. Ammren was launched by journalists who has knowledge of malaria and keep on reporting about this disease. “I want to call you all to keep the good job you are doing. Do not ever forget why you are Ammren members. Since we launched the Network in 2006, we have done a lot, but we can do better”, she concluded.

During the workshop, the Journalists visited the Bungu dispensary, Mchukwi Mission Hospital and Ifakara Health Institute (Kwiriri) where they found children and pregnant women suffering because of malaria. Some mothers demanded for ITNs.

That was an opportunity, as well, to know more about INESS.

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