By Dr Susan Harris Rimmer, Advocacy Manager for the Australian Council for International Development
I caught malaria in 1996. I was in a refugee camp called Dadaab on the Kenyan-Somali border, which is still there and still one of the saddest places on earth. I was a wide-eyed law student, desperate to work on refugee and human rights issues, so I took a loan and went to help the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kenya as an intern.
Like all Westerners in the camp, I did all the right things, took the anti-malarial drugs, slept under a net, and used insect spray every day. But as any refugee will tell you, most outsiders to Dabaab will sooner or later get a new drug-resistant strain of malaria due to their lack of immunity and I got bitten on my foot.
The diagnosis was quick, the treatment was quinine and bed rest. I can attest that this is a very scary disease to experience. The effect on my life was significant but manageable. I had several relapses back in Australia and met most of Australia’s tropical disease specialists. It took two years to fully recover.
By Gabriel Jaramillo, General Manager, The Global Fund
I travelled to Myanmar last week—it was my first trip to a Global Fund recipient country in Asia. I was curious to find out how the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in that country compares to what I have seen in my many visits to health clinics and hospitals in various parts of Africa. I was also eager to explain to our partners in the region that the Global Fund is undergoing changes that are making our organization more effective than ever.
Child under a bed net on the island of Isabel, Solomon Islands. © The Global Fund / John Rae
With growing financial challenges around the world, the pie of available resources is getting smaller. So the Global Fund is working hard to maximize the impact of the resources we have, while preserving our transparency and our country-driven approach.
By Benedict David, Principal Health Adviser, AusAID
Malaria, like other communicable diseases, is not just a public health problem; it’s a development problem, and one that affects our region of the Asia-Pacific. It is a disease that kills mothers and children, and impacts on economic growth and business interests. It does not respect borders.
Cagayan province, Philippines: Nurse examining cells to test for malaria. Photo: Rowena Harbridge, AusAID
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2010, there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide which killed 655,000 people. The disease hits the most vulnerable, marginalised and migrant populations, pregnant women and the young. In 2010, 86 per cent of global malaria deaths were children under five years of age.
By Matt Anderson, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands
Take a look at a map of Solomon Islands and you will get a glimpse of how hard it is to provide health services to more than half a million people scattered across 100 of the 990 inhabited islands that make up the country.
From the air, the challenge looks even more confronting as the archipelago of islands stretch as far as the eye can see. Some of the islands are big, others small, with banana boats the only way to move around.
Earlier this month, I flew over many of these islands on my way to Isabel Province. I was joined by Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Maelanga and Health Minister Charles Sigoto to celebrate the community’s efforts to eliminate malaria in the
School children during the community parade, which was part of celebrations to mark a successful campaign to eliminate malaria in the Isabel province. Photo: Lou Anderson/AusAID
The province leads the country’s efforts to control malaria, with the malaria
incidence rate for Solomon Islands dropping to 46 cases per 1000 people (down from 199 cases per 1000 in 2003).