When it comes to fighting malaria, Gambia is leading the way. Engaged in a relentless battle against this disease since the beginning of this century (2000), the country has now started reaping the rewards of its efforts. Malaria is quite plainly in freefall in the Gambia.
Last year, the “Roll Back Malaria Partnership” painted a very positive picture of some of the actions undertaken by the country. The local health authorities, after a thorough observertion, noted that only a combination of several different weapons could help control the disease and eventually bring it to an end.
The authorities embarked on a mass distribution of insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets and the introduction of new combined treatments to replace chloroquine which has become less and less effective.
To consolidate their efforts the training of qualified healthcare workers was undertaken, enabling the programme to cover the entire country.
Between 2000 and 2008, the number of deaths fell by as much as 90% in many regions. According to Dr David Conway of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine "This is really encouraging". To the point that we can "envisage removing Gambia from the list" of countries where malaria is "endemic".
This achievement gives room for hope that this devastating disease can actually be brought under control.
Worldwide more than a million people still die from malaria every year and all too often it is Africa that pays the heaviest price, with 800,000 children under the age of 5 killed by the disease in 2006.