There can be no doubt that the government of Tanzania regards malaria as one of its top health priorities. It has announced that it plans to reduce case numbers by at least 80 percent over the next two years.
Afrique en Ligne quotes Health and Social Welfare minister Professor David Mwakyusa as saying that the use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) will play a major part in efforts against the disease. RDT kits will be used on a pilot basis in three selected regions (Coast, Iringa and Kagera) before their distribution to all parts of the country.
Speaking at a launch event for the kits, Professor Mwakyusa said, “Malaria poses a great challenge, but if we play a collective role as individuals and do not leave the fight to the government alone, we will make malaria a history”. Malaria is still Tanzania’s leading killer, claiming 60,000-80,000 lives per year, mainly those of children under age five. Under-five malaria-related deaths have, however, already been much reduced, from 147 per 1000 live births a few years ago to 91 per 1000 in 2008.
Meanwhile, Tanzania’s Citizen newspaper reports that Tanzania spends over Sh850 billion (US$ 850 million) annually in fighting malaria. David Mwakyusa told the Citizen that the country spends 3.4 % of its gross domestic product on the disease. Around 29% of this is government expenditure, the rest of the figure is what individuals spend on drugs, coils, sprays and bed nets.
The US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) is amongst the biggest donors assisting Tanzania’s malaria control efforts. This year the country will receive $52 million from PMI. The Tanzania mainland will be allocated $46.77 million of the total, while the remaining $5.23 million will be spent in Zanzibar where the war against malaria has already shown positive results.