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The Burden of Malaria

It is American president John F. Kennedy who once asked; If not us who? If not now, when?

Today, maybe we should pose the same question as we address the issues of health and poverty. This is not to say poverty is a direct attribute of health, yet we cannot overlook the fact that health directly or indirectly affects the fight against poverty. Several research finding conducted over the past couple of years have shown a co-relation between health and poverty. In this article we seek to explore one particular disease and its implication on the health index of a country and region: Malaria.

It’s created a revolution of its own, malaria is a world pandemic that only few countries have been able to eliminate entirely.

Concentrated in the poorest regions of the world, notably sub-Saharan Africa, malaria not only exacts a heavy human toll in the areas where it is most prevalent but is also highly corrosive of the broader economic fabric of these regions. In the most heavily affected regions, malaria accounts for 40% of public health spending, sapping already-scarce resources and impeding long-term human capital formation.

Leading economists estimate that malaria causes an “economic growth penalty” of up to 1.3% per year in malaria endemic African countries. Malaria discourages investments and tourism, affects land use patterns and crop selection resulting in sub-optimal agricultural production, reduces labor productivity, and impairs learning.

The list of malaria’s economic implications grows wider as it affects an entire health sector. Malaria causes stunted growth in children, pneumonia and also a leading cause of maternal and neonatal deaths in many parts of the world.

Thus addressing malaria needs a multi-sectoral approach and also a wide spectrum approach if any progress is to be achieved. Policy makers need to look beyond malaria as an age old disease but as a health, social and political problem affecting the entire countries system.

Great progress has been made in the fight against malaria, but lots still remains to be done if the fight is to be successful and the efforts made thus far sustained.

Whilst educating people on proper net usage, proper sanitation practices and vector management, KeNAAM is creating a culture of self-dependent communities by helping communities create self-sustaining projects.

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