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Strategy Gambia set to become the first sub-Saharan African country to eliminate malaria

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Malaria could have no face in Gambia as the country is on a funding drive to become first sub-Saharan nation free of malaria

play The Gambia could soon be the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate malaria. (All Africa)

The Gambia could go down in history as the first sub-Saharan Africa country to eliminate the deadly malaria disease.

Report from the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) shows that malaria in children below 5 years old in the West African nation has dropped to 0.02 percent from 4 percent in 2011.

Also, the total number of new cases in the entire country has also fallen by at least 40 percent, with only 155,450 new cases reported in 2016.

The Adama Barrow led government of the Gambia are hopeful of achieving a milestone where the country will be malaria free by the year 2020, however, there is a major funding challenge of gap of over $25 million, the NMCP’s chairman Balla Kandeh told Reuters

“This last mile is the most difficult – we need more support to sustain the gains we have made, yet donors often turn their attention elsewhere as cases drop,” said Kandeh.

Kandeh believes that malaria rates in the country could rise if the financial impediment persists.

He is hopeful, though, that the Gambia’s new government under President Adama Barrow will win back the confidence of donors after many left during the previous 22 years of the autocratic regime.

The new president has created a better working environment, with fewer constraints and improved political certainty, he stated.

Fighting the disease with Technology

play The Gambia University students view Malaria parasites (MRC Unit Gambia)

According to Carla Fajardo of aid agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in the Gambian government bid to successfully eradicate the disease it has employed technology to tackle the deadly disease aside from the traditional control methods.

Health experts in the country are using tablets, online platforms, and GPS to monitor the delivery of malaria prevention services across the country, with real-time data making it easier for them to come up with quick and effective solutions.

Also, bandwidth to facilitate a sustainable flow of information has been boosted by internet providers in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says since 2000 the people dying of malaria has plunged by 60 percent and at least six million lives saved globally,

Measures put in place by global health players to end one of the world's deadliest diseases which kills about 430,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa are under threat as mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to measures such as bed nets and drugs.

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