AFRICOM fights back against Malaria

DEBAKA DEBOBESA, Ethiopia — U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Melissa McGaughey, Civil Affairs Team 4905 team sergeant, hands an insecticide-treated net to an Ethiopian man in Debaka Debobesa, Ethiopia, March 15, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya)

It’s not all bad news when it comes to malaria.

The World Health Organization reported today – World Malaria Day — that childhood mortality rates from malaria have dropped significantly in some areas, including a 50 percent decrease in Rwanda and 40 percent decline in Senegal.

Morocco was recently declared malaria-free by WHO, and the organization predicts malaria deaths worldwide could drop by 3 million in the next five years.

A concerted effort by worldwide governments, international donors and groups such as WHO, the International Federation of the Red Cross and USAID has brought more education, treatment and prevention to programs to the countries hardest hit by the disease. International funding for malaria reached $2 billion last year.

AFRICOM’s medical command has made malaria prevention and awareness one of its top priorities. The command surgeon’s office, the AFRICOM Medical Division, and the Humanitarian Health and Assistance Branch all support programs to prevent malaria in Africa. Those programs focus on outreach, information sharing and training opportunities with our African partners.

For example:

- In March, Civil Affairs Team (CAT) 4905, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, distributed 18,000 packs of insecticide-treated bed nets, rope and nails to Ethiopians.

- In July, the annual MEDFLAG exercise in Ghana featured malaria as part of the medical training between U.S. personnel and their Ghanian counterparts.

-   The World Malaria Day Symposium 2011 brought military medical corps officers and subject matter experts to AFRICOM headquarters in Germany for a three-day conference to discuss malaria prevention and how the disease affects the military, security and stability in African nations. Attendees included representatives from Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

-   A two-week course in Tanzania in January 2010 focused on malaria diagnosis. The course was a partnership among Tanzania, Kenya and the United States.

Click here to read more about AFRICOM’s anti-malaria efforts. Also be sure to watch for updates this week about AFRICOM and malaria on our home page at www.africom.mil,  on Facebook and on Twitter.

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