Africa is investing in different methods to eliminate malar

Publicação: 10 de January de 2013

Dr. Filomeno

Health officials estimate that in Africa a child dies every 45 seconds due to malaria

Malaria is the leading cause of illness and death, followed by tuberculosis, HIV and diarrheal diseases. “This is the current situation in Angola”, says Dr. Filomeno Fortes, director of the Program to Combat Malaria and coordinator of endemic diseases in the country. In 2011, about one million people died of malaria in the world – 890,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Health officials estimate that in Africa a child dies every 45 seconds due to malaria.

The doctor highlights an ambitious project to eliminate malaria: “This project is called E8. The current phase involves four countries that will eliminate malaria by 2015 and another four that should eliminate it by 2025. Angola and Mozambique, which are Portuguese-speaking countries, are included in this project, unfortunately, for the target of 2025”. The four African countries that will eliminate the disease by 2015 are South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana.

“Africais producing an anti-malaria drug that is more effective than the others. It will fight the five known types of the disease with a single tablet, taken just once”, says Filomeno. He explains that most drugs currently used involve taking 24 tablets, for the treatment of adults, which results in early abandonment of the medication.

“Furthermore, we have evidence of resistance to amizininas, a medicine that is currently in use”, says the expert. He believes that over the next two years this new medication will enable treatment with the use of fewer pills, leading to greater compliance and efficacy. “The expectation is that we will see a reduction in mortality from malaria over the next five years inAfrica”. He says that some researchers forecast that this new technology will lead to the worldwide eradication of malaria within two to three decades.

Recently appointed as secretary general of the International Federation of Tropical Medicine (IFTM), Dr. Filomeno argues that his appointment will improve the performance of the Angolan Society of Tropical Medicine. “It was created recently, and counted on the support of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT) and Professor Dr. Cláudio Ribeiro, founder member of our society”, he says. According to him, his nomination should help form partnerships, mainly between South America and southern Africa, and will also assist the Ministry of Health ofAngolato design and implement strategic policies.

Dr. Filomeno says that the International Congress of Tropical Medicine and Malaria (ICTMM), held in September, inBrazil, was crucial for learning about new experiences that can propel the various research areas. “We have a great shortage of professionals in the field of communicable diseases”, he acknowledges.

Challenges and projects
The expert says there are several projects currently in progress, such as one to differentiate viruses that cause fever. “This is a very interesting project. InAngola, as in most African countries, nearly all cases of fever on the mainland are considered to be malaria. There are not enough resources to make a differential diagnosis with other diseases that also cause fever”.

The national coordinator of endemic diseases explains that Angolais researching various diagnostic methods for diseases such as dengue, leptospirosis, rotavirus, and a virus called chikungunya. There is currently no capacity inAfricato diagnose or treat chikungunya, which is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

Another project that Filomeno highlights is the use of the mobile phone network to manage and monitor malaria and other programs. “This initiative will save lives […] Instead of computers scattered across villages (which is complicated and expensive), an adapted cell phone connected to a database enables the person on the ground to upload data at any moment”, he says. Data can be captured from any location, so that there is an immediate response to the situation.

Brazil

aims to eliminate malaria
Malaria is also a problem in Brazil. The United Nations (UN) has stipulated that the country must reduce the incidence of the disease by 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that malaria in Brazil will be reduced by between 50% and 75% over the next three years, but there is a risk it will miss this target. Only three countries in Latin America – Venezuela, Guyana and the Dominican Republic – recorded worse results than Brazil.…