World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick today signed a US$30 million credit at Lusaka’s Kalingalinga Township to provide additional financing for the country’s efforts to overcome malaria. This additional credit to support the ongoing Malaria Booster Program was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors last week, and will help to maintain and scale up the successes of the first phase of the program.
“Resources from the Malaria Booster Program have contributed to a sharp decline in annual mortality due to malaria as well as to the strengthening of Zambia’s health system,” Zoellick said.“But despite major advances in malaria prevention, the disease remains endemic and is still a leading cause of death, especially among children. We must persist with strong prevention efforts and ensure that health systems are equipped to treat the disease quickly.”
Between 2006 and 2009, Zambia stepped up its efforts to overcome malaria with the support of the World Bank. Preventive measures, including indoor residual spraying and distribution of insecticide treated nets, were particularly effective.
These measures have contributed to dramatic progress against malaria in Zambia during the past decade. The annual number of malaria deaths fell by at least half from 2000 to 2008, during which time the population grew by nearly a third. This implies a reduction in the death rate from malaria of more than 60 percent. Child mortality fell by 29 percent in this period—an estimated 75,000 children’s lives saved in six years.
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Speaking in Lusaka’s during a two-day visit to Zambia, Zoellick said the World Bank is proud to have been associated with this success story, through its close cooperation with the Zambian government and other partners that include USAID; the Global Fund; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, and the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers.
Zoellick explained that the World Bank funds will support the government’s efforts to address remaining challenges, particularly the funding gap for purchases of bed nets. Bed net ownership has declined markedly since 2008 in two of the three provinces that have shown a recent worrying resurgence in malaria.
The $30 million credit will be accompanied by a World Bank grant of US$16.76 million from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund (HRITF) to strengthen Zambia’s health system and improve the delivery of maternal and child health services in the country’s rural areas. HRITF is a multi-donor trust fund supported by the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom through 2022.
MALARIA IN ZAMBIA: KEY FACTS AND RESULTS
- Malaria has high human and economic costs. Economic losses caused by malaria have been estimated to decrease gross domestic product in African countries by as much as 1.3% per annum.
- Malaria has also placed a heavy burden on Zambia’s health system. In 2004, malaria was responsible for 45% of all hospitalizations and half of all outpatient consultations for children under five years of.
- Zambia has already made good progress in scaling up coverage of key malaria prevention measures between 2006 and 2009. National Malaria Indicator Surveys show that:
- Share of children under 5 years of age who slept under an ITN increased from 30% in 2006 to 52% in 2010.
- Share of households reported having either an ITN or conducting IRS increased from 43% in 2006 to 73% in 2010.
- The scale-up of the Malaria Program, supported by the World Bank, has contributed to the following results:
- Annual number of malaria deaths fell by at least 50% during the period 2000-2008.
- Parasite prevalence in children declined by 27% (between 2006 and 2010).
- Share of children with severe anemia declined by 33% (between 2006 and 2010).
- Recent data from the Malaria Program indicate that Zambia experienced a resurgence in malaria over the past two years in the Luapula, Northern, and Eastern provinces, a sobering reminder of the fragility of Zambia’s gains against the disease. This underscores the need to maintain critical targets for coverage of malaria prevention interventions.
- On the malaria treatment front, the World Bank, working with other partners, has helped Zambia’s Ministry of Health to increase access to anti-malaria drugs and other essential supplies in public health facilities in rural areas. Improvements to the supply chain for essential drugs could save thousands of children from malaria deaths in Zambia between 2010 and 2015, the target year for the Millennium Development Goals. The Zambian Government is currently working on scaling up these changes nationwide.