UNorganized trip shines media spotlight on Tanzanias efforts to prevent malaria

To observe this programme, more than a dozen American and European journalists have been visiting affected communities in a country where malaria is the leading cause of death. Some 100,000 people, mainly children and pregnant women, die from the disease annually in Tanzania, which also records 14 million to 19 million cases afflicting the country’s 37 million people. The disease is the leading cause of outpatient hospital visits and drains 3.4 per cent from Tanzania’s annual gross domestic product, according to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. One of the Millennium Development Goals for all 191 members of the UN is reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other such diseases by 2015.The delegates, from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), reporters from the European media and UN Radio/Geneva, visited both the mainland Arusha region and Zanzibar. They assessed the impact of the disease and looked at how the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports is alerting sport fans during soccer matches to use protective bed nets to ward off malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The group also toured small-scale Arusha farms growing Artemisia annua, a plant providing new and more effective anti-malarial therapies. They also went to the first factory in Africa to produce insecticide-treated bed nets through a technology transfer arranged by Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations.“Malaria interrupts daily life – keeping adults away from work, children away from school and sports people out of training – and at worst, it is a killer,” Restituta Joseph Kemi, a malaria survivor and 10,000-metre runner, told them. He has joined another malaria survivor, Tanzanian marathoner Fokasi Wilborad Fullah, as well as athletes from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, who are highlighting their support for WHO’s Roll Back Malaria campaign. In the meantime, two Tanzanian youth leaders, Angela Damas and Dimitri Furaha, are kicking off the UN Office of Sport for Development and Peace’s Pan-African Youth Leadership Partnership against Malaria. Regional summits will culminate in the UN’s Global Youth Leadership Summit in New York at the end of October.The American journalists said their visit to Africa, which began on 8 May and wraps up tomorrow, in memory of 23-year-old Akilah Amapindi, an NABJ student member who suddenly died at the NABJ annual convention last year from malaria contracted during a radio internship in Namibia.Djibril Diallo of the UN’s New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace organized the trip in cooperation with the NABJ, the UN Information Service in Geneva, the UN Information Centre in Dar es Salaam, and the UN country team in Tanzania.

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