Health - The ceremonial breaking of the ground to formally begin the construction of the three factories which will produce biolarvicides under the West African regional Malaria Elimination Campaign Programme took place in Abidjan Thursday, just as the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government were rounding off their 42nd Ordinary Summit.
An ECOWAS Commission statement, received by PANA here, said the ceremony included the unveiling of a plaque by the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Alassane Outtara of Côte d'Ivoire, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo.
Official statistics show that in Africa, malaria has killed more people than all the wars in the continent combined with a child dying every 30 second from the scourge, the statement indicated.
In addition, malaria, described as a disease of the poor as well as a major development challenge, kills more than 10,000 pregnant women and 200,000 of their infants every year in the continent, with the burden heaviest in West Africa.
This grim picture, coupled with the fact that malaria accounts for around 40 percent of public health expenditure in endemic countries, and costs Africa some US$ 12 billion in lost productivity, makes support for the ECOWAS Malaria Elimination Campaign all the more compelling.
It said 'However, the good news is that accordingly the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized vector control which encompasses biolarviciding as one of the major effective strategies for malaria elimination
The three West African biolarvicide factories are to be located in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, with technical assistance from Cuba and the financial support of the government of Venezuela, under a tripartite agreement between the two countries and ECOWAS for the elimination of malaria in West Africa.
The tripartite agreement, signed in 2009, focuses on strengthening the vector control component of the region’s multi-sectoral malaria control strategy.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ouedraogo said the ceremony demonstrated the determination of regional leaders to win the war against malaria through the vector control programme that has been acknowledged by the WHO as the only mode of intervention that can reduce malaria transmission from its present high level to zero.
Ouédraogo extolled the efficacy of vector control component of the malaria control strategy and pledged that the Commission would support Member States in implementing it in the spirit of its vision of a people-centred regional integration agenda.
Pilot programmes using the vector control in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Nigeria have shown encouraging results with 75 per cent reduction in Accra over three years, a 63 per cent reduction in Port Harcourt, the South South Rivers State in Nigeria, over two years, while Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, recorded a 15 per cent reduction during 15 months of application.