April 25, 2013
By the time you finish reading this article, malaria will have killed five children. Malaria kills an estimated 660,000 people every year of which some 85% are children under five years of age. That is roughly one death every minute of every day. Neatly 3.3 billion people, half of the world’s population, are at risk of acquiring malaria. In 2010, there were over 219 million cases of malaria. Eighty percent of all cases occurred in just 17 countries with forty percent occuring in only three countries- the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Nigeria.
Although malaria is most common in Africa, it is endemic in many Asia-Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea. Eighteen percent of all deaths at PNG hospitals are malaria-related. With 90% of the country at risk, approximately 800 Papua New Guineans die from malaria each year.
Malaria is a preventable and curable disease. However, many countries do not have the funding or access to the prevention services, early diagnosis, or treatments that could save thousands of lives. On World Malaria Day, April 25, we reflect on the severity and cruelty of this disease but also recognize the progress we have made towards defeating one of the world’s greatest killer diseases.
Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito (specifically the Anopheles genus). Effective prevention involves the use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) which act as a barrier between an uninfected person and a malarial mosquito. ITNs have been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in children under 5 by about 20 percent and malarial illnesses among children under 5 and pregnant women by up to 50 percent. An additional preventive measure is the use of indoor residual spraying, which repels and kills mosquitoes. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has provided malaria-endemic countries with some 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets and provided indoor residual spraying units to 44 million buildings.
Malaria is curable and there have been recent advances in treatment. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the most effective antimalarial drugs, have been increasingly available worldwide. The number of ACT treatment courses acquired by public health authorities increased from 11.2 million in 2005 to 76 million in 2006, and 181 million in 2010. The Global Fund has played a critical role in the introduction and expansion of coverage of ACTs in many countries where resistance to older malaria drugs has increased. In addition to financing treatment for 260 million cases (cumulatively) of malaria by mid-2012, the Global Fund has been piloting a pioneering financing mechanism to improve access to ACTs by making them more affordable.
With the Global Fund’s new US$15 billion replenishment target for 2014-16, announced in Brussels earlier this month, we have every hope that malaria will soon be a problem of our past. We have come a far way in treatment and prevention of malaria, but with a child dying every minute, we clearly still have a long way to go.
Article by Gabrielle Brophy, World Vision
Papua New Guinea marked World Tuberculosis Day 2013 with events across the country.
Port Moresby’s walkathon saw hundreds of people walking through the streets of the city advocating for ‘Stop TB in my lifetime’. A number of dignitaries walked alongside the public including:
- Mr Powes Parkop, National Capital District Governor
- Her Excellency Ms Deborah Stokes, Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG
- Dr Geoff Clark, PNG Program Director for Health and HIV
- Mr James Gilling, Australia’s Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria
- Dr Curt von Boguslawski, World Vision PNG Country Director
- Dr Laura Gaurenti, World Health Organisation Maternal Child Health Advisor
At the conclusion of the walk, entertainment, TB awareness and formalities took place for attendees, including a keynote address from PNG Government Minister for Health, the Honourable Michael Malabag. Proceedings were broadcast on local radio and captured for the country’s TV news programs.
Corporate sponsors joined dignitaries at a corporate dinner to hear from the PNG Government’s Minister for Health among other National TB Program partners, on the successes of the program in the country and the way forward to ensure that TB is eradicated in the coming decades.
The theme for this year’s World TB Day, ‘Stop TB in my lifetime’, was a consistent message throughout the events. There was strong advocacy on the symptoms of TB and spreading the message that the disease is both curable and treatment is free in all healthcare facilities in the country.
The PNG National TB Program uses the WHO recommended DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course) strategy. One key feature of the DOTS strategy is the use of treatment supporters to significantly boost the cure rate among TB patients. Treatment supporters visit TB patients regularly to ensure they take their medication. The effective DOTS strategy is already being implemented nation-wide, across all 22 provinces in PNG.
The World TB Day events displayed the cohesion of partners, with increased government commitment and dedication by implementing organisations in the fight against TB. Strong partnership has been and will continue to be pivotal to see effective and increased awareness, detection and treatment of TB across PNG.
The success to date of TB detection, treatment and cure rate in PNG will only be strengthened with the greater commitment from the PNG Government and dedication of the National TB Program partners. PNG is set to see a continued reduction of the TB burden and is well on the way to achieving global standards for treatment success.
Island Business and Papua New Guinea newspaper The National report that two Papua New Guinea government ministers have commended the efforts of the Global Fund in combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the country.
PORT MORESBY, PNG (THE NATIONAL) —- Two Papua New Guinea government ministers have commended the efforts of the Global Fund in combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the country.
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag both acknowledged the support during a breakfast with Global Fund’s deputy executive director Dr Debrework Zewdie in Port Moresby last week.
The two ministers said the Global Fund had made a meaningful contribution towards achieving the government’s national and millennium development goals.
Pato assured Zewdie that bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and the Global Fund would be maintained.
Malabag briefed her on the government’s efforts to address the three diseases – HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria – and other key health issues.
Zewdie assured the ministers that Papua New Guinea was important to the Global Fund.
She said the fund was eager to continue its efforts help the PNG government to implement its national health plan.
She commended the government’s commitment towards increasing funding for the diseases and the TB fixed dose combination drugs, anti-retroviral treatment for HIV and for driving forward the free health care policy.
Since 2003, Papua New Guineans have benefited from US$150 million (K319 million) from the Global Fund through various grants and initiatives, which have produced some positive outcomes.
Rotarians Against Malaria, Population Services International PNG, Oil Search Foundation and World Vision are some partners that are currently working alongside Global Fund to support health services in the country.
After touring major cities in the US, Europe and Asia, the Access to Life exhibition was opened in Sydney last night by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Patron of the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund.
Access to Life, a powerful photographic exhibition created by Magnum Photos in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The exhibition, which has moved millions of people around the world through its touching images of AIDS-affected communities, is being held 30 years after the first case of HIV was diagnosed in Australia.
The exhibition launch was celebrated by over 300 guests, including Mr Simon Bland, Chair of the Global Fund to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Mr James Gilling, Australia’s Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; The Hon Jillian Skinner MP, NSW Minister for Health & Medical Research; and Mr Peter Botten CBE, Managing Director of Oil Search Limited.
For the first time, a series of new photos from Papua New Guinea was unveiled at the exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. These photographs were taken by acclaimed British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins and will join the photographic case studies from Russia, Swaziland, India, Haiti, Vietnam, Mali, South Africa and Peru.
Access to Life was launched yesterday in Sydney in time for World AIDS Day 2012, which coincides with 30 years since the first case of HIV was diagnosed in Australia. The Australian response and approach to HIV and AIDS will be told in a new display, HIV & AIDS 30 years on: the Australian story, a compelling exhibit that beautifully accompanies Access to Life.
The opening of the exhibitions was attended by former Australian Health Minister Mr Neal Blewett and Professor Ron Penny, two instrumental individuals that were instrumental to Australia’s successful response to the HIV outbreak in the 1980s.
Both Access to Life and HIV & AIDS 30 years on: the Australian story open today to the general public. They will remain at the Powerhouse Museum till mid 2013.
This is a guest post by Dr Kevin Miles, HIV Technical Specialist at the Oil Search Health Foundation.
In its latest response to HIV in Papua New Guinea, the Oil Search Health Foundation has received endorsement from the PNG Department of Education (DoE) to facilitate a teacher training and mentorship program. Oil Search has had a successful HIV program since 2007, primarily focusing on supporting healthcare services in the Southern Highlands (inset). This new venture aims to strengthen the education sector’s approach to teaching personal-development, which includes the vital topic of HIV prevention. The program forms part of the Health Foundation’s implementation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Round 10 HIV grant. This Global Fund grant, which began in March 2012, aims to strengthen the capacity of HIV prevention, treatment and support systems across Papua New Guinea.
Scheduled to begin this month, the school mentorship program will work with secondary school teachers in Morobe and Hela to deliver high quality lessons that covers issues of HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights. Through a series of workshops and in-class teaching, the program will enable personal-development teachers to receive specialised training in accordance to the national personal-development curriculum. The school mentorship program comes at an opportune time; whilst life-skills based HIV education are part of the DoE curriculum, it has been estimated that only 21.9% of young women and men in Papua New Guinea aged 15-24 can correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission.