How China Defeated Malaria And How Africa Can Follow

Credit: Syed Ali

Malaria is one of Africa’s biggest health challenges in achieving socio-economic development. Typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito, the deadly disease has and continues to claim several lives and make life difficult for children and adults alike. Did you know China also faces malaria and has overcome it? 

A news article on a Harvard website reveals that Malaria has a long history in China. The word malaria was found on the oracle bone and bronze inscriptions of the Shang Yin era from 1562 to 1066 BC, which indicated malaria had prevailed for more than 3,000 years in China. Malaria remained a widespread challenge in China, with an estimated 90% of the population at risk of infection in the 1940s (i.e., 30 million cases and 300,000 deaths reported annually).”

Demonstrating China’s efforts at overcoming the virus, the study showed that “in 1955, the National Malaria Control Programme was established to engage communities to confront the burden of malaria. Although the disease remained highly endemic, with large-scale outbreaks in the 1960–1970s, steady progress towards malaria control was made (only 117,000 cases were reported in 1990).”

“In 2010, as part of the United Nations’ 2000 Millennium Development Goals, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission recruited cooperation from 13 ministries to support the ambitious Action Plan for China Malaria Elimination (2010–2020), which aimed to halt and reverse the incidence of disease by 2015 and eliminate local transmission by 2020. In 2010, the burden of malaria fell by more than 45% and more than 95% of provinces reported malaria incidence rates below 1/10,000. By 2014, only 56 of the country’s 3,078 reported malaria cases were categorized as indigenous,” the article said. 

Africa-China Malaria Control Partnership

China is said to have provided guidance and support to control and eliminate malaria in Africa. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zambia have signed agreements with China to establish Institutional-based Networks of Cooperation between Africa and China on Malaria (INCAM).

Malaria In Africa

According to the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), “in 2018, there were 228 million malaria cases that led to 405,000 deaths. Of these, 67 percent (272,000) were children under 5 years of age. This translates into a daily toll of nearly 750 children under age 5. Every two minutes, a child under five dies of malaria. Most of these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2010, mortality rates among children under 5 have fallen by 39 percent.”

Despite efforts made so far between Africa and China in combating malaria on the continent, malaria cases in Africa are still appalling. Covid-19 has also not been an easy nut to crack by some African countries. Isn’t it time for the Africa-China relations to gravitate towards more health sector partnerships to ensure and realize a healthyy Africa with sound Infrastructural development? 

Read the full article here

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