Rate of malaria infection unchanged despite peace

The number of people infected with and dying from malaria in Cote d’Ivoire has not improved over the last five years, despite the end of the civil war in the country, the head of the country’s malaria programme Dr. Moïse San Koffi told IRIN.

“Right now, the statistics are stagnant,” he said. Between 2003 and 2008, 172,000 children between zero and five years-old died every year from malaria in Cote d’Ivoire, he said, equivalent to eight children per hour.

Some 60 percent of consultations at state-run health clinics are malaria-related, he added. At least 20 percent of pregnant women have malaria, frequently causing low birth weights among their infants.

According to the UN Development Programme in Cote d’Ivoire, the combination of poverty and high levels of malaria around the country mean 90 percent of Ivorians are at “high risk” of infection.

However health officials say they have little in the way of support to either treat or prevent infections. “Some illnesses are underfinanced,” said Magloire Kablan N’Zi, a nurse at Grand-Yapo, a village 60km outside the country’s financial centre Abidjan.

Cote d’Ivoire’s health ministry says it has made low-cost anti-malarial medicines available for 420,000 people. It has requested funds from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to provide more medicines, bed nets and sensitisation programmes.

aa/nr