Why we need to tackle Malaria and Ebola together

aa1Mass drug treatment for malaria is a key step towards preventing a rise in the mosquito-borne disease in Ebola-stricken countries and to ease the burden on medical staff, a leading disease control expert said on Tuesday.

Sierra Leone began a campaign on Friday to protect 2.4 million people – nearly half its population – from malaria, reducing pressure on health services from people visiting clinics wrongly fearing they have Ebola.

“It is a good example of how looking at the broader picture is the right approach – because the number one killer in Sierra Leone is malaria, not Ebola,” Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, executive director of Roll Back Malaria, an alliance of global groups, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We can’t win the fight against either disease by looking at it in isolation.”

More than 9,300 trained community health workers in Sierra Leone have been going door-to-door in districts where the risk of Ebola is highest to administer anti-malarial tablets to people aged six months and above. (read more)