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Sunday 25th of April is World Malaria Day
Simple solutions exist, yet malaria still claims more than a million lives every year because these solutions are not implemented widely enough. In Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is the biggest killer of children under five.
A young boy is tested for Malaria.
“The fact that quick, effective diagnosis and treatment is now possible makes the continuing tragedy of malaria in the developing world all the more unacceptable.” says Dr. Martin De Smet, malaria expert with MSF. “The necessary tools to fight malaria have been developed and now need to be used and implemented on a wider scale.”
Each year, MSF medical teams treat over a million malaria patients in 30 different countries. Where reliable microscopy is not available, MSF uses Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs). These quick and non-invasive tests require just a single drop of blood from a patient’s finger tip to correctly diagnose the disease within fifteen minutes. MSF have shown the RDTs work in many different contexts including busy hospitals in Uganda, mobile clinics in Congo, and by trained village malaria workers in Mali.
The medication MSF uses is artemisinin based combination therapy (ACT). These pills are the most effective medicine to treat malaria and have low toxicity and few side effects. If a patient is diagnosed early, they can be cured simply by taking ACT pills for just three days.
Prevention is crucial, and is also very straightforward. MSF carries out mass distributions of nets in malaria-endemic regions, especially targetting those most at risk - pregnant women and children under five.
“On the occasion of World Malaria Day 2010, MSF highlights the need for all parties to stick to their commitments to ensure the scale up and implementation of RDTs, ACTs and bed nets in countries where malaria is endemic” says Martin De Smet.
Click here to view an interactive map of all MSF's malaria projects.