Major malaria success on small island

03 Jul 2009

Posted by: Paul Chinnock - Editorial Team

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Bioko (formerly known as Fernando Po) is a small island (estimated population 130,000) that is part of the troubled African country of Equatorial Guinea. A programme to improve the control of malaria on the island is reported (1) to have achieved remarkable success.

Four years after high coverage, multiple malaria control interventions were introduced: mean prevalence of infection in children aged 2-5 years fell from 42% to 18%; prevalence of moderate-severe anaemia in the same age group declined from 15% to 2%; and all-cause under-five mortality dropped by two-thirds, from 152 per 1,000 births to 55.

The interventions included: artemisinin combination therapy for children and pregnant women; intermittent preventative treatment of pregnant women; distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets; and indoor residual spraying.

As discussed in an editorial (2), a key part of the programme was the support from the Marathon Oil Corporation which is active in Equatorial Guinea; it provided $15.8 million for malaria control on Bioko and is now providing support to expand the programme on the mainland. Further details of Marathon’s support are given in a press release from the company.

The reductions in malaria took place in the atypical setting of a small island and involved massive external funding. Nevertheless, the excellent news from Bioko demonstrates what can be achieved using methods already available, even in a highly-endemic setting.

1. Kleinschmidt I, Schwabe C, Benavente L, Torrez M, Ridl FC, Segura JL, Ehmer P, Nchama GN (2009). Marked increase in child survival after four years of intensive malaria control. Am J Trop Med Hyg;80(6):882-882.
2. Steketee RW (2009). Good news in malaria control… now what? Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2009 Jun;80(6):879-880.

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