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World Malaria Day: The time to act is now!

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On World Malaria Day, April 25th, ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action), in partnership with Canal+ International, is calling on actors to come together to fight the disease. Since 2009, ALIMA and its partners have been supporting national health ministries to implement activities for the prevention, screening and treatment of malaria.

A preventable disease, yet one of the leading causes of child mortality

“Malaria, along with malnutrition, remains one of the leading causes of death in Africa, where it affects pregnant women and children the hardest,” says Dr. Moumouni Kinda, ALIMA’s Chief Executive Officer. ”In our countries of operation in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria accounts for 60-70% of morbidity, particularly during the rainy season, a period of high transmission.”

According to the World Health Organisation’s World malaria report 2020, approximately 11.6 million pregnant women throughout 33 African countries were infected with malaria (35% of all pregnancies) in 2019.

“In 2020, ALIMA treated nearly 263,000 children under the age of five with malaria,” explains Dr. Malam Issa Kanta, Program Manager for ALIMA. “We supported 45 hospitals and 312 health centers, with the provision of medicines and medical equipment, human resources, as well as the rehabilitation and construction of healthcare facilities. Our teams are involved in all aspects of patient care: ALIMA and its partners support health districts in the implementation of seasonal malaria chemoprevention programs, as well as other preventive activities and the diagnosis of malaria cases [rapid tests for all children]. In countries where these actions are effectively implemented, we see a significant reduction in the number of cases,” says Dr. Kanta.

The impact of COVID-19 on access to care, treatment and prevention of malaria

The arrival of COVID-19 had a negative impact on the fight against malaria. The number of consultations dropped, as patients were reluctant to attend health centers at the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, restrictions on the movement of health workers and patients, and difficulties in the supplying of medicines, equipment, and staff had a detrimental effect.

Dr. Ibrahim Kandian Diallo, former ALIMA Program Manager, explains: “In 2020, consultations in health structures supported by ALIMA fell by around 35%, even though malaria represents more than 50% of the reasons for consultations. Communities’ access to health care was also disrupted because people were afraid of being contaminated by COVID-19.”

Reaching people by mobile clinics

Access to health care is difficult for many people who often have to walk for several hours to reach the nearest health center, especially during the rainy season, when many areas become inaccessible due to flooding. To reach the most vulnerable populations, ALIMA has implemented mobile clinics in most of its countries of intervention, including Niger, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and South Sudan.

Asunta Ukol Ako, from Aweil, a town in the northern Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan, is a mother of six. She says, “My children regularly have a fever, especially during the rainy season. Since the arrival of ALIMA, whenever they get sick with malaria, I take them to the mobile clinic where they receive free anti-malaria medication.”

Without ALIMA’s programs, a large part of the population living in remote areas would not have access to malaria prevention and treatment. To fight this disease and save lives, we need additional staff and material resources. To support our malaria response projects and help the most vulnerable populations, make a DONATION.

As part of its solidarity program ‘1 Month, 1 Cause,’ Canal+ is supporting ALIMA by highlighting our actions against malaria in a 52-minute documentary film and by broadcasting our TV spot free of charge throughout April 2021.