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Myanmar: World Malaria Day 2011

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World Malaria Day on 25 April helps us remember that half the world's population continues to be at risk of contracting this deadly and debilitating disease. The theme of this year's World Malaria Day is Achieving Progress and Impact, which marks the international community's renewed efforts to achieve near zero malaria deaths by 2015.In 2009, approximately 780,000 people died from malaria and 85 per cent were children under the age of five. More than two billion people are at risk of malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.Malaria can be cured. However, there is evidence that the parasites that cause malaria are becoming resistant to the key component of the most effective drugs—artemisinin.Artemisinin resistance is already confirmed near the Thai-Cambodia border and there are strong indications that it is emerging in eastern and southern Burma, which has the highest malaria burden in south-east Asia. There is a risk that resistance will spread throughout south-east Asia and eventually to other malaria endemic regions such as Africa.Artemisinin resistance is a serious threat to global malaria control programs. There are currently no drugs to replace artemisinin and the human and economic costs of widespread drug-resistant malaria would be immense. Australians travelling in affected areas will also be at risk. Immediate action is needed to contain the spread of this resistant parasite.To tackle this problem, AusAID is supporting a year-long 'kick-start' to artemisinin-resistance containment in Burma through the Three Diseases Fund.This program will increase the number of trained village health workers, expand the use of insecticide treated bed nets and reduce the reliance on less effective drugs, the misuse of which has been a major cause of resistance.The Three Diseases Fund is a multi-donor fund administered by the United Nations that aims to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Burma.Three Diseases Fund case study By CESVIMy name is Daw Htwe Homg. I'm 52 years old and live in Mang Sang village in Kyauk Mae Township.I have been working with CESVI as a voluntary health worker since December 2007. In the last three years, I have tested nearly 500 people for malaria. Out of the 1010 people living in my village, I have found and treated 124 confirmed cases.I'm always organising health education sessions both in Burmese and Shan languages. I explain the causes of malaria infection, various prevention methods and how people can easily get appropriate treatment from me.When we organise long lasting insecticidal nets distribution or bed nets impregnation campaigns, I visit each and every household in my village to ensure that everyone is involved.One day, a pregnant woman came to visit me and she had fever and headache. The result of the rapid diagnostic test for malaria was negative so I didn't give her any treatment and accompanied her to Kyauk Mae District Hospital. Once we got there, we met an Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist. I introduced myself as a CESVI village health worker and explained the situation of the patient. The doctor asked me what I could have done if the result of the rapid diagnostic test was positive and I replied that I wouldn't have provided any treatment and have immediately referred the patient to the hospital because that's how I have been taught to deal with pregnant malaria patients in CESVI's trainings.Cesvi—Cooperazione e Sviluppo An Italian NGO established in 1985, is a secular, independent association, working for global solidarity. In the acronym Cesvi, the words cooperazione e sviluppo (Cooperation and Development) underline the fact that Cesvi bases its philosophy on the idea of giving the recipients of aid a leading role, working together for their own natural benefit. It is for this reason that Cesvi is strongly committed to making sure that international aid does not become mere charity, and nor is it influenced by the donors' self-interest.A few days later, I was invited to attend a General Practitioners Workshop. The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist gave a speech, appreciating my work and I also received some gifts for my right decision and my commitment.I'm happy to work with CESVI, proud of what I am doing and will always do my best to support the project.More informationAusAID health programs []Three Diseases Fund (3DF) []Roll Back Malaria Program []World Malaria Day []World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Action Plan []