USAID Partnering To Help Africans Help Themselves Out of Poverty, by Bruce Greenberg

Saturday, June 25, 2005

In sub-Saharan Africa, Natsios said, more than 2 million people die annually from malaria and many more succumb to AIDS-related complications even as millions more become newly infected with the virus. With the losses through death and the effects of the debilitating illnesses that prevent people from working, public services suffer, children are not properly educated, and economies begin to atrophy, he said.

Natsios described projects USAID is spearheading to control the ravages of malaria among Africa’s populations by working with public and private entities like NetMark, a regional partnership that helps distribute insecticide-treated bednets through the commercial sector to boost malaria prevention, which has facilitated $66 million dollars’ worth of business over the past eight years.

“We want to form viable markets so that these bednets are made in Africa, sold in Africa to Africans,” Natsios explained. “To create demand for these nets, we are making them available to those who can pay, and providing discount vouchers to those who cannot, while eliminating taxes and tariffs.

“We’ve developed consumer marketing campaigns to create a demand, while educating people about their use. These 20 million nets will prevent a quarter-million to a half-million deaths from malaria annually,” Natsios said.

In addition to its mosquito bednet program, USAID is also field-testing new drugs such as “combo-therapies” that use derivatives from a wormwood plant found in Asia to combat drug-resistant forms of malaria. At the same time, the agency is working with partners in the field to negotiate with Africa’s agriculture producers to encourage farmers to cultivate more of these anti-malaria plants.
Story found here.

Source: USINFO