Malaria doesn’t respect boundaries – Zambezi River Expedition

NAM News Network reported that, “On March 27, a dedicated team of individuals will embark on a two-month humanitarian journey that will start in the North Western Zambia through six countries along the (2,500 km) Zambezi River to the Mozambique Delta where the river meets the Indian Ocean, in an effort to raise malaria awareness and to help eradicate the spread of the disease in the SADC region.” The expedition plans to reach “remote populations with access to protective bed nets and malaria treatment drugs.”

The Zambezi has also drawn attention of malaria commodity donors in the recent past. Although the Zambezi has “one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls,” It also has zones “where cases of malaria are reported throughout the year” according to the Zimbabwe Red Cross, who organized distribution of over 3,000 nets in 2005 and 2006. USAID also recently supported a year-long expedition down the Zambezi to bring services and attention to the remote populations affected by malaria.

The 2008 expedition is described by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership: “The 2-month expedition along the Zambezi River will raise awareness among both local communities and international donors of what is needed to fight malaria and help strengthen cross-border collaboration on malaria-related policies. The Zambezi Expedition project, supported by 6 countries from the Southern African Development Community, has received financial backing from the nonprofit and the private sectors and will be steered by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.” AFP explained that, “The teams would distribute mosquito nets and medicines in the communities they visit, and doctors would conduct diagnostic tests for the parasitical disease that claims the life of an African child every 30 seconds.”

Campaigns and expeditions certainly help, but what is needed most is continued regional planning and cooperation since malaria and mosquitoes do not respect boundaries. It is hoped that the Trans-Zambezi countries can put together a joint proposal to the Global Fund for the upcoming Round 8 funding. All partners should join together to support this important regional activity. This will also require much good will and collaboration among the Central Coordinating Mechanisms of the countries to support a joint proposal.

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