Malaria Border Patrol

As with any annual observance, concern expressed on just one day a year will not solve a problem. Here are two recent updates on cross-border malaria issues in keeping with this year’s World Malaria Day theme.

Even frosty relations across borders do not stop malaria, and so according to the Associated Press, “South Korea plans to donate more than US$1 million worth of anti-malaria supplies to North Korea. The Unification Ministry said Friday the donation will be made through the World Health Organization to buy medicine and diagnosis equipment. Yonhap news agency said North Korea’s malaria cases declined to about 7,500 last year from some 300,000 in 2001. The donation comes amid a freeze in the two Koreas’ relations.”

For South Korea, this is not just a philanthropic gesture. MedIndia.com reports that, “Soldiers guarding the border were previously the main victims but now an equal number of civilians are being infected, said Seoul National University team leader Chae Jong-Il, a parasitology professor.” AFP also observed that a “Seoul research team warned this week that the mosquito-borne disease is spreading from North Korea and beginning to take root in South Korea.”

zambezi.jpgAnother cross border venture is the Zambezi River of Life Expedition. After passing through Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, the torch of the expedition is being passed to Zimbabwe. The Herald (Harare) reports that, “ZIMBABWE has taken over from Zambia the Sadc roll back malaria campaign programme code named the Zambezi River of Life Expedition aimed at intensifying the fight against the disease.”

The Zambezi Expedition is not only raising awareness but encouraging action. A Zimbabwean Ministry of Health official was quoted saying that, “Sixty percent of our population use nets and we want to reach the 100 percent mark. There is also need for community participation to complement efforts from the Government and stakeholders in this fight against malaria.”

These are practical examples of cross-border cooperation needed to eliminate malaria. Readers are encouraged to share other examples.

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