As a physi­cian work­ing for a multi­na­tional in An­gola, I have been in­spired by the in­te­grated ap­proach the com­pany takes to ad­dress malaria. Hav­ing seen the way malaria im­pacts work­ers, their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

deaths have de­creased by 45 per­cent. And right here in Africa, the num­ber is closer to 50 per­cent, with eight coun­tries that are on track to meet the WHO 2015 goal of re­duc­ing their malaria case in­ci­dence rates by 75 per­cent.

De­spite this progress, malaria continues to kill more than 627,000 people each year, the ma­jor­ity of whom are chil­dren un­der the age of five. The dis­ease also has broad reper­cus­sions for health and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, harm­ing preg­nant women and their in­fants, pre­vent­ing chil­dren from at­tend­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in school, and lim­it­ing adults’ eco­nomic po­ten­tial and abil­ity to in­vest in their fam­i­lies.

This week, on World Malaria Day, part­ners who have joined the fight against malaria will take stock of progress made and re­flect on the many chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties that lie ahead. While we should cel­e­brate the gains we have made, we like im­proved drugs and vac­cines.

Im­ple­ment­ing an ef­fort of this grand a scale re­quires on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion and co­op­er­a­tion across the board to ef­fec­tively lever­age the ex­per­tise and re­sources of each part­ner. Per­haps one of the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties we have is to fully en­gage the pri­vate sec­tor.

As a physi­cian work­ing for a multi­na­tional in An­gola, I have been in­spired by the in­te­grated ap­proach the com­pany takes to ad­dress malaria. Hav­ing seen the way malaria im­pacts work­ers, their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, we in­tro­duced a work­force malaria pro­gram and sup­port for com­mu­nity malaria con­trol ef­forts more than a decade ago. Our fo­cus on the four ABCDs – Aware­ness, Bite preven­tion, Che­mo­pro­phy­laxis and Di­ag­no­sis and early ef­fec­tive treat­ment – has been para­mount to the ef­fec­tive con­trol of malaria in ExxonMo­bil work­places, the cor­po­ra­tions can be agents of change across a spec­trum of con­trol ef­forts. These part­ner­ships alone have helped dis­trib­ute more than 13 mil­lion bed nets, pro­vide close to 2 mil­lion malaria treat­ment doses, and train 355,000 health work­ers. When com­bined with other com­pa­nies’ ini­tia­tives, these ef­forts trans­late into ex­panded im­pact where it is most needed.

As a com­mu­nity, we can build on these suc­cesses. Go­ing for­ward, the global malaria com­mu­nity must re­main stead­fast in its com­mit­ment to lever­age the re­sources of its part­ners and fos­ter greater col­lab­o­ra­tion to ex­pand the reach of these in­ter­ven­tions. To­gether, we can re­duce the bur­den of malaria – and build a more pros­per­ous and healthy fu­ture across the con­ti­nent.

Dr Se­tas-Fer­reira is the Re­gional Ad­vi­sor for Com­mu­nity and Pub­lic Health at the U.S. ExxonMo­bil Cor­po­ra­tion

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