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Switzerland: The fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2013


Switzerland steps up its commitment to the fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis

 

BERN, Switzerland, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The Federal Council has approved a contribution of CHF 60 million for the 2014-2016 period for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). Switzerland was one of the founders of the Geneva-based fund in 2002 and has been one of its key partners since the beginning. Malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa. These three diseases are among the most important factors hampering development.

 

Three diseases – malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis – are among the most frequent causes of death worldwide, and especially in Africa. Malaria remains the leading parasitic disease worldwide. In 99 countries, approximately 219 million new cases are registered every year. About half of the world’s population lives in areas affected by malaria. The WHO estimates that in countries in Africa with endemic malaria the disease lowers economic growth by 1.3 percentage points per year.

 

Some 2.5 million people are still becoming newly infected with HIV every year and more than 1.7 million people die of AIDS-related illnesses every year worldwide. In the case of tuberculosis, the estimated number of annual deaths is 1.4 million. HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis frequently occur in combination, making them very difficult to treat in developing countries.

 

Nevertheless, considerable progress has been made in the fight against these three diseases over the past ten years. For example, new HIV infections declined by 33% worldwide, and by more than 50% among children in medium-income countries. Some 8 million people in Africa are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy – a twenty-fold increase from 2003. Significant progress has also been made in the fight against tuberculosis: the TB mortality rate has fallen by approximately 41% since 1990. The UN’s millennium development goal of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases by 2015 and gradually reversing their incidence is thus within reach.

 

The fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis is a high priority for international development cooperation as well as for Switzerland. The significant progress achieved so far can no doubt be attributed amongst others to the efforts of GFATM, which is the biggest backer in the fight against these three diseases.

 

SOURCE

Switzerland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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Norway: Government to step up global health efforts

Posted by African Press International on October 19, 2013

The GAVI Alliance (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will together receive an additional NOK 330 million in the national budget for 2014. The Government wishes to intensify its efforts to promote child and maternal health globally, to fight deadly diseases and to help to eradicate polio.

“Six million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. Deaths from malaria have fallen by 25 % since 2000. Deaths from tuberculosis have fallen by more than 40 % since 1990. And deaths from AIDS fell by 30 % from 2005 to 2012 alone. This shows that the global health effort is producing results. But much remains to be done,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
Polio is in the process of being eradicated. Norway is increasing its support to this work by more than fourfold, with a total allocation of NOK 240 million for 2014. These funds will be administered mainly by the GAVI Alliance, but also by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“There is a close link between the use of resources and the results achieved. The money is reaching those for whom it is intended, and is being used effectively. This is why we are increasing our support, knowing  that this work is benefiting women and children, as well as men, all over the world,” said Mr Eide.
The fight against the major deadly diseases AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria is being intensified. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will receive an additional NOK 50 million. It is planned that this funding should be increased by a further NOK 100 million in 2015. Altogether it is proposed that NOK 1.7 billion should be allocated to the Global Fund for the period 2014–16.
Norway’s allocation to the GAVI Alliance is to be increased by NOK 100 million. So far 370 million children have been vaccinated through GAVI-supported programmes, and the aim is to reach many more. Norway’s contribution now totals more than NOK 1 billion per year.
“The increase in this year’s budget shows that Norway is shouldering its part of the responsibility for bringing the world closer to achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” said Mr Eide.
In total, Norway now spends more than NOK 4 billion of its international development budget on global health. Norway intends to increase focus on universal health coverage. It is the responsibility of individual countries to provide basic health services to their populations, while the role of the international community must be to provide support for national efforts under national ownership.

 

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Kenya: Latest groundbreaking research on preventing, controlling and eliminating malaria , a killer disease

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2013

Leading research scientists all over the World are set  to present the latest groundbreaking research on preventing, controlling and eliminating malaria , a killer disease and how they have been working to combat  the emerging resistance to drugs, insecticides, among others.

This even as the malaria community celebrates 10 years of progress in driving down the unacceptable number of what happened 50 years ago when donor fatigue and a lack of new tools resulted in a resurgence of malaria incidences  that took roughly a million lives a year in 2000.

The malaria community is responding by racing to hold on to the gains of the last ten years, while at the same time continuing to develop the tools that could help to eliminate and eventually eradicate malaria.

The Sixth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference, the world’s largest gathering of malaria expert, will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 6-11 October 2013.

Leading scientists from across Africa and around the world who are pushing this groundbreaking research forward, will gather to present their latest findings in the areas of malaria diagnostics, control (including insecticides and mosquito behavior), treatment (drugs),and prevention (including long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying and vaccines).

At the conference, subtitled “Moving Towards Malaria Elimination: Investing in Research and Control,” they will be joined by thousands of other experts, national malaria control programme managers, policymakers, health care workers and community members who will highlight new developments and remaining challenges in the fight to defeat malaria once and for all.

Despite unprecedented advances, malaria continues to infect approximately 219 million people around the world each year.

In 2010, it took the lives of an estimated 660,000 people, the vast majority young children in Africa.

History has shown that decrease in support for fighting malaria in areas where significant progress has been made lead to a resurgence of the disease, potentially undoing years of effort and investment and putting millions of lives at risk.

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Malaria-causing mosquitos are increasingly gaining resistance to insecticides

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

Photo: Wikipedia
Malaria-causing mosquitos are increasingly gaining resistance to insecticides

KISUMU,  – A new interactive online mapping tool will help track insecticide resistance (IR) in malaria-causing mosquitoes.

The tool, the IR Mapper, “consolidates reports of insecticide resistance in malaria vectors onto filterable maps to inform vector-control strategies”. Data consolidation for the programme was conducted by the Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen and a partnership between the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KEMRI/CDC). The map interface was developed by ESRI Eastern Africa.

The system, which was launched in April, allows users to view new data from tests on insecticide susceptibility and resistance mechanisms, and to retrieve existing published data, including historic information from as far back as 1952. These data can be used to generate tailored maps from 51 countries.

“IR Mapper is a tool used to view results from insecticide studies (WHO susceptibility tests) using malaria mosquitoes collected from sites throughout the world,” Willis Akhlwale, head of disease control at the Kenya’s Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, told IRIN. “It can also be used to view results from investigations of insecticide-resistance mechanisms (molecular and biochemical assays) in malaria mosquitoes collected from the same or different sites.”

The data on the interactive site is extracted from scientific articles and reports and from IRBase, an existing database dedicated to storing data on the occurrence of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations worldwide.

According to Akhlwale, the tool will help inform policy on malaria vector-control strategies: “Although the site is accessible to all, most users are likely to be decision-makers for mosquito-control strategies and policies, research scientists, and those involved in vector-control product development.”

IR a serious threat

Current malaria-control mechanisms are heavily reliant on insecticide-based interventions. These include indoor residual sprays and the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

In 2012, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) launched a strategic planto help fight insecticide resistance in malaria vectors.

WHO estimated that the world might see 26 million more new cases of malaria if insecticide resistance was not adequately dealt with.

According to WHO, insecticide resistance is widespread and is reported in nearly “two-thirds of countries with ongoing malaria transmission. It affects all major vector species and all classes of insecticides.”

WHO’s strategic plan said: “Current monitoring of insecticide resistance is inadequate and inconsistent in most settings in which vector control interventions are used.”

Malaria, a preventable and treatable infectious disease, remains one of the world’s biggest killers. There are an estimated 219 million malaria infections and 660,000 deaths annually; many of the fatalities occur in children under five years old.

ho/ko/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Malaria accounts for about a third of outpatient consultations in DRC clinic

Posted by African Press International on May 22, 2013

KAMPALA,  – Gaps in the healthcare system in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are hampering the fight against malaria, a leading killer of children, say experts.

Malaria accounts for about a third of outpatient consultations in DRC clinics, Leonard Kouadio, a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) health specialist, told IRIN. He added, “It is the leading cause of death among children under five years and is responsible for a significant proportion of deaths among older children and adults.”

Kouadio continued: “Recent retrospective mortality surveys have revealed that in all regions of the country, the fever is associated with 40 percent of [deaths of] children under five.”

Malaria is also a leading cause of school absenteeism in DRC, and it may have other adverse effects. “In cases of severe malaria, children who survive face serious health problems such as epilepsy, impaired vision or speech,” he said.

According to UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, out of about 660,000 malaria deaths globally in 2010, at least 40 percent occurred in DRC and Nigeria.

In DRC, malaria accounts for about half of all hospital consultations and admissions in children younger than five, according to the government’s National Programme for the Fight against Malaria (NMCP). On average, Congolese children under five years old suffer six to 10 episodes of malaria per year, according to UNICEF’s Kouadio.

Other leading causes of death among under-five Congolese children include acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition, according to UNICEF’s 2013-2017 DRC Country Programme Document.

A deficient health system

“It is apparent that major deficiencies in the health system have contributed to the severity of recurrent outbreaks [of malaria],” Jan Peter Stellema, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) operational manager, told IRIN via email.

“Mosquito nets are not being sent to vulnerable areas, and there are shortages of rapid diagnostic test [kits and] drugs and the equipment for carrying out blood transfusions vital for children suffering from anaemia caused by malaria.”

Other problems include costly care and management challenges.

For example, the treatment of an uncomplicated bout of malaria ranges from about US$22 to $35, and treatment for severe cases can cost $75 to $100, according to NMCP. Such costs are prohibitive for a large number of people, many of whom live on about one dollar a day.

“The fight against this scourge must remain a top priority of the country, despite the lack of financial resources”

“In DRC, the absence of other healthcare providers and overstretched health systems leave people vulnerable to contracting malaria. Too many health centres lack the supplies necessary for coping with a new outbreak, and as a result children are dying because they did not receive care for malaria,” MSF’s Stellema said.

According to the DRC Country Programme Document, “Governance, management and coordination problems plague the [health] system at the national, provincial and local levels, thereby undermining political commitment, planning, budgetary expenditure, coordination and alignment of partnerships, the accountability and transparency of service providers, and the participation of the population in management of the services.”

It adds, “Combined with extreme poverty, these factors create financial barriers hampering families’ access to nutrition and services, and weaken the social standards that are essential for keeping families together and maintaining a protective environment for children.”

Investment in healthcare needed

“The absence of government investment and the fragmentation of public assistance have eroded the capacity of civil society and of functional public facilities to maintain quality services,” adds the DRC Country Programme Document.

“The re-mergence and expansion of certain epidemics (polio, measles and cholera) are proof of that. In addition, little has been done to modernize infrastructure. Essential supply systems, such as the cold chain, have not been put in place,” it states.

There is an urgent need to address the struggling health system to fight malaria, experts say.

“The fight against this scourge must remain a top priority of the country, despite the lack of financial resources,” said UNICEF’s Kouadio. “The government and its partners should increase the funding for the fight against malaria in the DRC, in particular, acquisition and universal distribution of mosquito nets to households, provision of essential drugs and rapid diagnostic test [kits], and dissemination of environmental sanitation measures.”

Malaria occurs almost year-round in DRC due its tropical climate and its river and lake system. The country has some 30 large rivers totalling at least 20,000km of shoreline, and 15 lakes totalling about 180,000km, which offer environments conducive to the proliferation of diseases and disease vectors, including the Anopheles mosquito, which spreads malaria.

According to MSF’s Stellema, the DRC government and national and international health actors need to take rapid and sustainable measures to prevent and treat malaria in order to avoid unnecessary child deaths. In 2012, MSF treated half a million Congolese for malaria, many of them children under five.

“MSF’s emergency response is saving lives in the short term. But in the longer term, the organization cannot address the [malaria] crisis alone,” said Stellema.

so/aw/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Boosting global malaria?

Posted by African Press International on May 14, 2013

Artemisinin is usually extracted from the sweet wormwood tree, mainly grown in Asia (file photo)

NAIROBI,  – The UN World Health Organization has accepted the first semi-synthetic version of artemisinin, the key ingredient for malaria treatment globally, for use in the manufacture of drugs, boosting hopes that more people will have access to life-saving medication.

With an estimated 219 million malaria infections and 660,000 deaths – mainly children under five – annually, the disease is one of the world’s biggest killers.

Until now, artemisinin, the key ingredient in the WHO-recommended first-line malaria treatment artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT), has only been available by extraction from the sweet wormwood tree, native to Asia. However, climatic factors have meant it has suffered from uneven supply over the years.

“Normally, artemisinin is sourced from a plant, which is affected by seasonal factors – now, we have a man-made source, which ensures a constant supply of the drug,” Anthony Fake, active pharmaceutical ingredients focal point for WHO’s prequalification of medicines programme, told IRIN.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, scientists at the University of Berkeley, California, were able to genetically engineer a strain of baker’s yeast to mass-produce the semi-synthetic artemisinin.

French pharmaceutical firm, Sanofi, which manufactures the semi-synthetic artemisinin, recently announced that it planned to “produce 35 tonnes of artemisinin in 2013 and, on average, 50 to 60 tonnes per year by 2014, which corresponds to between 80 and 150 million ACT treatments”.

Agencies involved in fighting malaria say they have big expectations for the new product.

“The production of semi-synthetic artemisinin will help secure part of the world’s supply and maintain the cost of this raw material at acceptable levels for public health authorities around the world and ultimately benefit patients… Having multiple sources of high-quality artemisinin will strengthen the artemisinin supply chain, contribute to a more stable price, and ultimately ensure greater availability of treatment to people suffering from malaria,” Scott Filler, senior technical adviser for malaria at the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, told IRIN via email.

According to Martin de Smet, who heads up Médecins Sans Frontières’ working group on malaria, the uncertainty of natural artemisinin’s availability has led to bulk buying and speculation in the market, leading to the price of the raw product varying widely – from US$400 per kg to $1,000 per kg – over the years.

He noted that the new development would have gains wider than ACTs: “It also opens doors to other forms of artemisinin use other than ACT, for example, artemisinin injections for severe malaria.”

Not a replacement

De Smet said it would be important for the supply of the natural version of artemisinin to continue alongside the semi-synthetic production.

“We hope that the message will not be that it will replace the natural product, because this would act as a disincentive to the farmers, who could stop producing their crops. It should be complementary, with a growing share of the market,” he added. “Hopefully, we will see the price of ss artemisnin matching the lowest price available for the natural product.”

Both WHO’s Fake and MSF’s de Smet say there is no need for concern over differences in efficacy or safety, as drugs manufactured with both versions of artemisinin contained the same active chemical ingredient.

“There is still a lot to do – pharm companies need to formulate the end products that they will produce based on the semi-synthetic artemisinin, and these then need to be prequalified by WHO – a bureaucratic process but one which ensures that the drugs are safe and effective,” he said.

“We don’t expect to see change overnight, but rather a gradual increase in the market share by companies manufacturing drugs using the semi-synthetic artemisinin – even if we see them getting 10 percent and eventually 20 percent, this will help ease speculation about the product’s availability and stabilize prices.”

kr/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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AFRICAN MEDIA AND MALARIA NETWORK ASK GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP WAR AGAINST MALARIA

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga, 
As the World marks Malaria Day, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership(RBM) is set to launch a three-year campaign under the theme “Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria.”
The campaign is to help strengthen political will and generate the funding needed to continue averting deaths in malaria-endemic countries.
According to sources mapping progress against key milestones on the road to 2015 shows how the collective efforts of the global malaria community contribute to creating a healthier and more prosperous world.
The source adds that the RBM campaign will help mobilize the resources and support the malaria fight through 2015 and beyond.
The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), a Network with membership in 10 African countries engaged in malaria control advocacy, believes the global malaria community is doing the right thing by taking stock of the promises and realities of ending malaria deaths at the targeted date of 2015.
According to Mrs Charity Binka of Ghana who is also the AMMREN CEO, many African countries missed the 2010 Abuja targets to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by half.
Binka pointed out that with less than two years to meeting the 2015 targets of further reduction of 75% in morbidity and 50% reduction in mortality, countries are now scaling up efforts to at least sustain the modest gains made over the last decade.
The CEO said her AMMREN is of the view that the gains made in malaria control are fragile and could easily be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers, donors and the communities.
According to her ,this is because the efforts and resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next years will have an impact on whether or not the malaria map will keep shrinking or expanded by the malaria parasites.
While commending, governments, donors, health officials and other key players for efforts made in past decade to bring down malaria morbidity and mortality figures, she said AMMREN is of the view that the widespread negative practice of the treating malaria without diagnosis is likely to hinder the acceleration of the control efforts.
Over 80% of cases of malaria is still being treated without diagnostic testing in many malaria –endemic countries in Africa according to WHO.
The world health body reveals that the universal diagnostic testing will ensure that patients with fever receive the most appropriate treatment, and that antimalarial medicines are used rationally and correctly.
AMMREN is now calling for the scaling up of diagnosis before treatment and a massive deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to ensure that appropriately diagnosed cases are treated promptly and correctly.
Some African countries have made significant gains in this regard. The WHO indicates that 60 African governments were providing ACTs free of charge to all age groups as at 2010.
The network is of the view that there must be a scaling up of these laudable efforts so that millions of African who still lack ready access to appropriate treatment will be covered to ensure that every confirmed malaria case gets treated.
It is also asking for a focused attention on preventive activities through the use of treated bed nets. This is because in the fight against malaria, prevention is the best of all options. The higher the number of people using bed nets, the bigger the rate of reduction in malaria cases.
It shares in the optimism of African scientists, the donor community and stakeholders, that malaria can be pushed out of Africa this century.
However, this optimism must be measured against promises made about 13 years ago, when 40 African Heads of State made a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria to reduce the malaria burden on the continent by setting targets.
Many countries have missed the 2005 and 2010 targets and also likely to miss the 2015 targets unless conscious efforts are made increase access to essential malaria interventions such as diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
The continued existence of taxes and tariffs on commodities for malaria control in some countries shows lack of commitment towards dealing with malaria.
Taxes and tariffs and non-tariff measures make these life-saving products unaffordable to the poor and vulnerable.
Despite challenges, in the last decade, there have been some investments in new tools such as long lasting insecticidal nets, rapid diagnostic tests, indoor residual spraying and ACTs. The scaling up of these activities has resulted in modest progress as some countries are now moving from control activities to malaria elimination.
Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2009, according to a Roll Back Malaria report, have joined other countries in their region to form a sub-regional malaria elimination initiative known as Elimination 8.
The Gambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Madagascar have also secured global funds to prepare for elimination. And since 2007, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has shown the intent to eliminate malaria.
“As of 2010, the total number of reported cases of malaria in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland were relatively low raising hope of elimination,” the report added.
With talks of malaria elimination slowly making its way to the front burner, the question of malaria vaccines, as an additional tool must be given urgency and supported by all stakeholders to ensure that it is quickly incorporated into the National Immunization Day schedule once a vaccine receives licensure.
So far the RTS,S, appears to be most promising malaria candidate vaccine. If all goes well the vaccine could be available for targeted use in the next couple of years for young children.
Indeed there is hope on the horizon and AMMREN will continue to lead in providing accurate and timely information on malaria as part of its effort to wipe out the disease from the face of the globe. AMMREN also urges other African journalists to join in the malaria elimination crusade.
Kicking out malaria from Africa is a responsibility of governments, identifiable organizations, communities and individuals. April 25 should be seen as a day of renewal of commitment to work towards a malaria free society.
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ONLINE MAPPING SYSTEM HELPS FIGHT MALARIA BY TRACKING MOSQUITO RESISTANCE TO INSECTICIDES USED TO PREVENT MALARIA.

Posted by African Press International on April 28, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga,

The first online mapping tool to track insecticide resistance in mosquitoes that cause malaria has been launched .

The interactive website, called IR Mapper (www.irmapper.com), identifies locations in more than 50 malaria-endemic countries where mosquitoes have developed resistance to the insecticides used in bed nets and indoor residual sprays.

IR Mapper incorporates the just-released World Health Organization (WHO) revised criteria for reporting insecticide resistance which is designed to detect it earlier.

With the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, the IR Mapper helps direct which vector control tools should be deployed in areas of high resistance.

Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted to people through infected mosquitoes. It kills a child every 60 seconds yet it is preventable and curable.

Progress has been made against the disease due largely to wide scale use of insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying (IRS). But the rapid spread of resistance in malaria-carrying mosquitoes to insecticides used in bed nets and sprays threatens current malaria control efforts.

Resistance among Anopheles malaria vectors has been reported in 64 countries, with parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and India of greatest concern.

“Deployment of the most appropriate insecticide based vector control interventions including nets and IRS needs to be informed by up-to-date data on insecticide resistance in the malaria vector species,” said Dr. Nabie Bayoh, an entomologist at KEMRI/CDC in Kisumu, Kenya. “Until now, data has been scattered throughout different databases and has come from a variety of sources. This has made prompt decision-making difficult. IR Mapper has helped to address this” he added.
IR Mapper consolidates published data on insecticide susceptibility and resistance mechanisms from 1959 to 2012. It includes reports from the President’s Malaria Initiative, National Malaria Control Programmes and other reputable institutes.
Resistance is usually measured by putting mosquitoes in a tube lined with insecticide-treated paper. Mosquitoes land on the paper and absorb the insecticide – some may die and some may survive.

A population is considered susceptible if almost all die. Until recently, resistance was confirmed by survival of more than 20 percent in this test.

The new guidelines from WHO reduced this threshold value to 10 percent, meaning that resistance will be reported earlier. This change is an indication of the concern insecticide resistance is causing globally.

IR Mapper data aligned with the new WHO thresholds is presented in a user-friendly format on interactive maps. The mapping function allows filtering and projection of data based on a set of user-directed criteria.

For instance, users can examine the resistance status of single or multiple Anopheles species to one or more insecticides within their region of interest.

This can be the basis for a “go” or “no go” decision on a particular insecticide for deployment on nets or in sprays. Data can also be viewed for specified time periods, to identify any existing trends in resistance over time.

Data consolidation for IR Mapper was conducted by Vestergaard Frandsen and KEMRI/CDC. The map interface was developed by ESRI Eastern Africa and is powered by JavaScript.

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