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By: Ariel Delaney, Deputy Director, Malaria Partners International  

 

On a recent trip to Ethiopia, I learned a startling statistic: to date, reported malaria cases have increased by 150%. This information was shared by Teguest Yilma, Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee Ethiopia Chair, whom I had the pleasure of meeting.  This past year Malaria Partners International’s (MPI) small grant program has received a few applications for consideration.

In meeting with Teguest, I aimed to better understand the malaria situation there. World Health Organization (WHO) study findings show that there are different types of vectors in different parts of the country. Anopheles stephensi is found in eastern Ethiopia and is resistant to almost all conventional insecticides used for indoor residual spraying. With current control methods proving ineffective, malaria cases are soaring, particularly in the Afar and Oromia regions. From the beginning of 2023 to the end of June, 1,251,910 cases of malaria have been reported.

To put this number into perspective, there were onky 13,136 cases reported during the same period of 2022.  

According to Teguest, this is due to various reasons driven by the continued fallout of pandemic-related programme disruptions, armed conflict, and displacement in addition to lack of budget for purchasing indoor residual spray chemicals from abroad to replace the existing ones, which are becoming increasingly less effective especially to the new Anopheles stephensi species. 

In the recent years, the government of Ethiopia has successfully implemented malaria prevention and control interventions, which have led to reduction of malaria morbidity and mortality in the country. 

Moreover, in the country which is known for large-scale malaria endemics in a cyclical manner, the frequency and magnitude of malaria epidemics have also substantially decreased. The achievements made so far have prompted the country to move towards nationwide malaria elimination by 2030.” 

So, what can be done?

Malaria isn’t the only burden the ministry of Health faces and the current political climate is still a concern for Ethiopia’s future.  It is an open question as to how the 20+ Roary clubs can engage with malaria control efforts. For our part, MPI has been invited to speak virtually at an Addis Rotary Club meeting. We hope to share more about how our small grants program works to support empowering Rotary Clubs in malaria-impacted regions to take direct action in controlling the spread of malaria in their community.  

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