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From African Eye News Service, through Africa News - Original

HEADLINE:

Malaria Impacts Negatively On Africa's Economy

BYLINE: Panafrican News Agency

DATELINE: April 26, 2000

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The control of malaria would significantly increase the Africa's economic productivity and the income of African families, according to a new report released at Tuesday's "Roll Back Malaria" summit in Abuja.

The document, produced by the World Health Organisation, Harvard University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, estimates that Africa's GDP would be up to 100 billion US dollars greater in 2000 if malaria had been eliminated years ago.

"The evidence strongly suggests that malaria obstructs overall economic development in Africa," Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, said.

"Since 1990, the per person GDP in many sub-Saharan African countries has declined, and malaria is an important reason for this poor economic performance,"

The report estimates that sub-Saharan Africa's GDP would be up to 32 percent greater in 2000 if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago.

This would represent up to 100 billion dollars added to sub-Saharan Africa's current GDP of 300 billion dollars.

According to the authors, this extra 100 billion dollars would be, by comparison, nearly five times greater than all development aid provided to Africa in 1999.

They said that malaria slows economic growth in Africa by up to 1.3 percent each year. This slowdown in growth due to malaria is over and above the more readily observed short run costs of the disease.

Since sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is around 300 billion dollars, the short-term benefits of malaria control can reasonably be estimated at between three billion and 12 billion dollars per year.

"Malaria is hurting the living standards of Africans today and is also preventing the improvement of living standards for future generations," Gro Harlem Brundtland, director general of the World Health Organisation, said. "This is an unnecessary and preventable handicap on the continent's economic development."

The report recommended that one billion dollars annually be devoted to malaria prevention and control and that most of this expenditure be focused in Africa.

"The benefits of committing substantial new economic resources to malaria will greatly exceed the costs," Sachs said.

Malaria accounts for nearly one million deaths each year in Africa, out of which 700,000 were among children.

Research has found that the wider availability and use of insecticide treated bednets would result in 50 percent less malaria illness among children.

Yet presently, only 2 percent of African children are protected at night with a treated bednet.

"Roll Back Malaria aims to help African families create a mosquito free zone in the home through the use of nets, drapes, or bednets treated with insecticide," Awash Teklehaimanot, acting project manager for Roll Back Malaria, said. "Our goal is to ensure that every person at risk of malaria in Africa is protected with an insecticide-treated bednet within the

In addition to ensuring wider availability of treated nets, Roll Back Malaria is also working to provide greater access to rapid diagnosis and quick treatment with the appropriate therapies -- ideally in the home; preventing malaria illness during pregnancy; and detecting and responding to epidemics quickly. next five years."

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