In a Corner of Senegal, a Victory Over Malaria

May 3, 2018 | The New York Times

Fifteen years ago, malaria, which causes fever, chills, fatigue, headaches and vomiting, was the leading cause of death and illness in this part of northern Senegal. During the rainy season, “every family had one or two deaths from malaria,” said Amadou Bakhao Diaw, a health economist and hospital director in Dagana, a town near Richard Toll. “People thought the hallucinations and delusions that come with severe malaria were caused by witchcraft,” he said in a published interview.

April 25 was World Malaria Day. Worldwide deaths from the disease have dropped by nearly half since 2000, but progress has now stalled.

In Senegal, combating malaria once seemed like a losing battle. In 2004, because of government mismanagement, Senegal lost its anti-malaria funding [PDF, 1.7MB] from the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This prompted Senegal to overhaul the management of its malaria program the following year and eventually to regain Global Fund support.

In Senegal, between 2006 and 2013, malaria deaths dropped by 62 percent, thanks to efforts from the government and international aid partners, including an American program named the President’s Malaria Initiative that began under President George W. Bush in 2005 and has now saved two million children across Africa.

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