CONGO: Government to provide free malaria care for under fives

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Republic of Congo's president Denis Sassou Nguesso has pledged free malaria treatment for the country’s young children and their mothers.

He made the announcement in parliament on 27 October, saying it would apply to “children from birth up to the age of five, beginning 2008".

Malaria causes the death of between 20,000 and 30,000 children in Congo every year, according to the UN Children's Fund.

The disease is also the leading cause of low birth weight and post-natal haemorrhages, and is responsible for at least 45 percent of all hospital consultations and between 50 and 60 percent of hospitalisations for children under five, said Congo's ministry of health.

Statistics show that only six percent of children under the age of five and about four percent of pregnant women sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets, which are designed to kill mosquitoes, the malaria vector.

The promise of free malaria treatment followed the 15-20 October nationwide measles vaccination campaign that was accompanied by the distribution of insecticide-treated nets.

Children between the ages of six months and five years were de-wormed and provided with vitamin A supplements during the campaign to reduce infant mortality.

Source: IRIN