Before we count malaria out we must first learn to count

Bill Brieger | 31 May 2010
Africa Health
World Malaria Day for both 2009 and 2010 had the theme 'Counting Malaria Out'.1 The Abuja Declaration of 2000 set malaria control targets for 2010 that countries are trying to achieve by 31 December 2010, hoping that 80% of vulnerable groups (pregnant women, children under 5 years of age) would sleep under insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), that 80% of children under 5 would receive prompt and appropriate antimalarial treatment with artemisininbased combination therapy (ACT), and that 80% of pregnant women would receive two doses of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp).2

Before we can report whether these targets have been achieved we need to be able to count or document that these malaria control services have actually been delivered. As noted in the Lancet, 'Without reliable information, government officials who allocate resources for health budgets in such countries are essentially working in the dark. The low quality of statistics results in adverse outcomes, such as underfunding and poor monitoring of many development programmes.'3

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