A new agreement reached in Sudan by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is set to provide a major boost in the fight against malaria in the country.
Sudan’s national malaria control programme – with the support of the Global Fund, UNDP, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others partners – has reduced the number of malaria cases from more than seven million in 2000 to 2.8 million in 2014. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of deaths due to malaria was reduced by 46%.
However, there remains a high burden of malaria-related morbidity and mortality in Sudan and the disease is a public health priority. Endemic in most parts of the country, malaria yearly turns into an epidemic in six states out of 18 following heavy rains or floods from River Nile. There are currently 34 million people at risk of malaria across the country. Malaria accounts for 8.7% of all health facility visits, 11% of all hospital admissions and is a leading cause of illness and death in children under five years in Sudan.
“We collaborate with UNDP since 2005 and thanks to the Global Fund grant our medical team each year can treat more than 2.8 million people who present malaria symptoms. This is an enormous gain for the country, not only because we have managed to save many lives but also because people can continue to pursue healthy and productive lives, which also reduces the burden on the overall social and economic development of the country” noted a manager of the National Malaria Control and Prevention Programme (NMCP) from Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health.
Since 2005, UNDP is actively working in Sudan with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to reduce transmission and morbidity and to strengthen the national health system.
As part of a large prevention programme, UNDP in collaboration with country partners has been encouraging families to sleep under long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in risk areas and by 2014 has distributed more than 13 million bed nets to provide protection to 26 million people, covering about 78% of the territory. The plan is to reach universal coverage by 2016. The programme specifically addressed pregnant women and children under 5, hard-to-reach populations and populations at risk. The bed nets are treated with insecticides, unlike ordinary bed nets that are available in the local market, and give better protection from mosquito bites and other insects like sand flies, preventing malaria, leishmaniasis and filaria.