South Sudan commemorates World Malaria Day

25 Apr 2013

South Sudan commemorates World Malaria Day

25 April 2013 – Although malaria had brought "incredible destruction" to South Sudan, the government was confident of winning the fight against it, a top country official said today at the commemoration of World Malaria Day in Juba.

Speaking at Nyakuron Cultural Centre, where hundreds of people gathered to observe the day, national Minister of Health Michael Milly Hussein said the government was committed to eradicating malaria.

He encouraged the use of insecticides and all other "weapons" available to combat the disease, a leading cause of death in South Sudan that accounts for two in every 10 deaths in the country.

UN agencies and other partners joined the government to commemorate the day under the theme, "Invest in the future: Defeat malaria".

The event featured performances by local artists to increase awareness and promote basic, but effective methods of preventing and treating the disease.

"It is a huge burden on South Sudan... It's a leading cause of death, especially for children under five years of age and it really aggravates the burden of malnutrition that women and children are facing," said UNICEF country representative Dr. Yasmine Haque.

Acknowledging efforts made so far in fighting malaria, Dr. Haque noted that serious challenges still remained.

Dr. Abdi Mohamed, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Sudan, said WHO would provide about 1.8 million doses of anti-malarial drugs to all 10 states of the country this year.

A three-day free malaria testing and treatment campaign ended yesterday at Logola health facility in Juba. The exercise, supported by WHO, recorded 200 infections out of a total 700 people tested.

In a statement to commemorate the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said malaria continued to inflict a major toll on least developed countries, primarily in Africa, where millions of people lacked access to life-saving interventions.

"Controlling malaria does more than improve human health," said Mr. Ban. "It boosts social well-being and economic development. I urge the global health community, including political leaders in endemic countries, to maintain their commitment to provide universal access to malaria interventions and end needless suffering from this preventable and treatable disease."