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Swiss success in the fight against malaria

Most mosquito infections could be avoided with the right protection swissinfo.ch

Malaria kills more than one million people, mostly children, each year. To mark the first African Malaria Day, attention has focused on pioneering prevention work in Tanzania, conducted by the Swiss Tropical Institute in Basel.

This content was published on April 25, 2001 - 12:37

The project, which is funded by the Swiss Development Agency, concerns the use of mosquito nets treated with an insecticide. It has reduced child mortality rates from the disease by 27 per cent.

The programme began in 1996 in the remote Kilombero and Ulanga districts in southwestern Tanzania, has now been expanded into a national programme.

"If you calculate the impact that our scheme has had on child mortality, it amounts to about 100 lives saved every year," project leader, Dr Christian Lengeler, told swissinfo.

"If you could protect every child in Tanzania with a treated mosquito net, you could save roughly 30,000 lives a year. If you applied it to the whole of Africa, you would prevent roughly half a million deaths every year."

Each year, 500 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America fall victim to malaria. The illness costs African countries annually 1.3 per cent of their gross national product - more than they receive in development aid.

The Tanzanian national programme will be funded by various organisations including the Swiss Development Agency, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund.

In the middle of the 19th century, malaria occurred in various river plain and marshland areas of Switzerland. Mosquitoes carrying the disease still exist here and experts say that one day the disease could break out again.

In addition, more than 300 out of 700,000 Swiss who travel annually to endemic areas return to Switzerland infected with malaria.

by Vincent Landon

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