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Malaria Cripples African Economy


From: The Washington Times

African leaders and health experts a met recently in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to develop plans for a counterattack on malaria, which costs Africa more each year than all foreign aid combined. According to a report by Frey Sachs and other economists at Harvard University prepared jointly with researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the World Health Organization, Africa's gross domestic product would be up to $100 billion this year if malaria had been eliminated years ago. This was the focus of the first world summit on malaria. The World Health Organization and other international organizations and heads of state are asking the United States and other countries for US$1 billion per year, far more than currently provided, to combat malaria, which kills over 1 million Africans annually.

The new report highlights malaria's hidden cost, the loss work due to recurrent periods of fever and weakness, which helps impoverish sub-Saharan Africa.

Other causes for African poverty are said to include the lack of accountable governments, illiteracy, lack of infrastructure, unfavorable trade terms with industrial nations and tribal, ethnic, civil and national conflicts. According to the report, malaria obstructs overall economic development in Africa and contributes to the decline in gross domestic product since 1990. If malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago, when its causes, prevention and cures all became known, Africa's GDP would be up 32 percent greater in 1999. This would represent about US$100 billion added to Africa's current GDP of US$300 billion, an amount nearly five times larger than all the development aid provided to the continent last year.

Each year, malaria slows economic growth in Africa. The benefits of malaria control are estimated to reach the US$12 billion annually.