(Daily News) PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has restated the country’s determination to eradicate malaria deaths within the next four years and appealed for increased co-operation between public and private sectors to achieve the goal.
Malaria is still the leading killer disease in the country and the victims are mostly pregnant women and children under the age of five.
Official records put the number of deaths caused between 60,000 and 80,000 every year.
« The disease is also the cause for poverty in most African countries. Thus strong commitments and innovations are essential to arrive at zero deaths by 2015, » he said.
President Kikwete was speaking during the inauguration of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) annual stakeholders’ meeting in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that saw official handing over of board chairmanship to Mr Ray Chambers by Barones Lynda Chalker.
Since the health system effectively responds to the increased burden from malaria, he said engaging and leveraging the private sector appropriately was crucial to achieve the set targets.
« It would help in tapping available resources to compliment government’s efforts, » he added.
He welcomed the MMV mission to discover, develop and deliver new, effective and affordable anti-malaria drugs that would help reduce the burden of the killer disease.
President Kikwete, also the head and co-founder of the Alliance of African Leaders Against Malaria (ALMA) reiterated commitments of the heads of state to overcome the challenging situation by the killer disease.
The Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hadji Mponda, said malaria accounts for between 30 and 40 per cent of the Outpatient Departments (OPD) attendances and 34 per cent of the overall deaths.
He called for scaling up and sustaining universal coverage of the scientifically proven interventions in the control of malaria.
« To achieve universal coverage, it requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders, especially the private sector that would focus on strengthening the health delivery system, » he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Rufaro Chatora, said increased funding on the war against malaria has led to reduction of malaria cases by almost 50 per cent in disease endemic countries.
Dr Chatora appealed to donors and development partners to increase funding to malaria control projects to save the lives and resources in developing countries that are most hit by the problem.
The outgoing MMV Board Chairperson, Barones Chalker, said every three seconds a child dies of malaria and urged for increased co-operation of all stakeholders to end the scourge.
Mr Chambers said he was optimistic MMV would make a difference and bring malaria death cases to zero in Tanzania by 2015.