Yes, smarter malaria drugs welcome


IT has come to light that a Chinese pharmaceutical company has agreed to build in Tanzania a medicine factory that will produce high quality malaria drugs that will help combat resistant strains of the dreaded killer disease.

Guilin Pharmaceuticals Company, which is based in Shanghai, China, will start constructing the factory as soon as the project contract is signed and a plot of land allocated for the noble anti-malaria project. The upshot is to have affordable high quality medicines.

The factory will enable Tanzania to intensify the fight against the deadly disease given the stark reality that the cost of importing the drugs from China and elsewhere will possibly be eliminated.

So, we should welcome the factory with open hands. In Tanzania, approximately 80 per cent of malaria deaths occur among children below five years of age and pregnant women. A recent national survey found that 18 per cent of children have malaria parasites.

This, indeed, is a worrisome situation. Despite the vigorous government efforts to wipe out the scourge wrought by the prevalence of malaria, it has been determined that the killer disease is spreading alarmingly in some parts of Tanzania, including Dar es Salaam.

The malarial infection rate this year has reached 14.8 per cent nationally compared to 10 per cent in the year 2012. It has also been established that three regions (Kagera, Geita and Kigoma) have the highest infection rates in the country.

This is an appalling situation that calls for special attention to combat the disease, which is now endemic in the three regions. Unfortunately, this year the malaria infection rate has started to increase intolerably nationwide.

In 2008, when the government introduced a special campaign to scale down the scale of malarial infections the rate was 18 per cent but in 2012 the campaign succeeded in whittling down the infection rate to 10 per cent.

At the international level, the World Health Organisation says that hopes of eliminating malaria from more than 30 countries with a total population of two billion people have risen following the successful removal of the disease from Sri Lanka.

By the end of the decade, another 21 countries, including China, Malaysia and Iran, could be free of the disease, which kills 400,000 people, mostly babies and pregnant women, every year.

Tanzania should strive vigorously to join this rank of anti-malaria fighters.

The world health outfit says that 13 countries, including Argentina and Turkey, have reported no cases for at least a year and may follow the success of Sri Lanka, which has declared itself malaria-free after a vigorous fight.

This is the direction Tanzania must take. It is now or never.

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