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Amid increasing floods, Cameroon takes aim against malaria epidemic

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/1/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Banning of plastic bags that clog waterways important step in containing mosquitos

Cameroon, a fiercely resistant nation in central West Africa is taking aim against malaria, the deadly mosquito-borne virus that kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world annually. Health officials have their work cut out for them, as rampant flooding in the nation has sped up the process of mosquito hatchlings.

While mosquito nets are being freely distributed, health officials in the Cameroon are concerned that many families are not using them.

While mosquito nets are being freely distributed, health officials in the Cameroon are concerned that many families are not using them.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/1/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Cameroon, malaria, flooding, nets


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A recent spike in deaths from vector-borne diseases has been noted in the country, as the standing water left from flooding encourages malaria-carrying mosquitoes to breed.

"The increase in the death rate from malaria in Cameroon is disturbing indeed, especially at a time when efforts to combat the disease in African were yielding positive results. The Cameroon government, however, is sparing no efforts to reverse the trend," Alim Hayatou, secretary of state in charge of epidemics and pandemics says.

Find out how you can help in the battle against this deadly disease --

The 2014 campaign aims to step up official efforts to reduce the death rate from malaria by at least 75 percent before 2018. One of the chief goals is to alleviate malaria's heavy social and economic burden on the population.

The annual death toll from malaria in Cameroon leapt from less than 2,000 in 2011 and 2012 to over 3,200 in 2013, according to statistics from the non-governmental organization Malaria No More.

Working alongside partners such as UNICEF, Plan Cameroon and Malaria No More have launched the anti-malaria campaign K.O. PALU (Kick Out Malaria) with a door-to-door distribution of treated mosquito nets to families, especially with pregnant women and children, accompanied by environmental education.

Cameroon saw the distribution of free treated mosquito nets rise from 33 percent of the population in 2011 to 66 percent in 2013, according to Cameroon's minister of public health, André Mama Fouda. The death rate has paradoxically increased, indicating the need to accompany net handouts with messages about the environment and good hygiene practices.

"Exerting unprecedented control over the unfriendly behavior of people towards the environment is key to succeeding in the fight against malaria and other vector-borne diseases," the minister said.

One important step undertaken in 2013 was the banning of the production, sale and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. Health and environment experts say have clogged up drains and gutters, contributing to floods.

"The reckless littering of . plastics on streets and waterways are some of the barriers to efforts to fight floods, because they block drainage facilities," Tansi Laban of the ministry of environment and nature protection told Thomson Reuters Foundation in Yaounde.

"Worse still, many households and companies dispose of plastic bags by burning them, which emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and increase the level of dioxins and carbon dioxide in the air, resulting in ozone layer depletion. This leads to global warming and climate change," the official added.

Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable mosquito-borne illness, according to the World Health Organization.

An estimated 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria worldwide, according to a 2013 WHO report. Of these, 1.2 billion are at high risk, in areas where more than 1 malaria case occurs per 1,000 people.

Globally, there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, and an estimated 627,000 deaths. The report said 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

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