"Drop the Malaria Tax" campaign launched
PRESS RELEASE African leaders fail on promise to drop malaria tax In spite of the "Abuja Declaration" two years ago, 26 African countries still tax the importation of mosquito nets "Drop the Malaria Tax" campaign launched today at www.MassiveEffort.org Two years ago, African leaders pledged to drop import taxes on treated mosquito nets in an attempt to reduce the continents' enormous malaria epidemic. On the second anniversary of their meeting, fewer than half have kept that promise. In a declaration made in Abuja, Nigeria on 25 April 2000, Africa's leaders pledged to reduce the cost of protecting mothers and their children from mosquitoes. Of the one million people who die from malaria in Africa each year; the majority are children and pregnant women. According to the Massive Effort, a global initiative that is mobilizing society to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, 26 countries still have not removed taxes and tariffs on treated mosquito nets. Responding to this lack of political commitment, the Massive Effort is waging a "Drop the Malaria Tax" campaign. "Africa's leaders must be held accountable to their promises," said Louis Da Gama, Director of Malaria Foundation International and spokesperson for the campaign. "They have it in their power to drop these taxes and to do more to fight malaria in their countries." Treated mosquito nets are considered one of the most effective methods for reducing malaria transmission and preventing death. Research in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the world's annual 300 million malaria cases occur, shows that using treated mosquito nets can reduce malaria occurrence by at least 20% among children. Cost and availability are the major barriers to the use of treated mosquito nets. In the majority of African countries, import duties increase the price of treated mosquito nets by more than 30%, which can amount to a day's wages in Africa. Removing the taxes on these nets and the materials required to produce them would reduce the price significantly and make them much more affordable to poor households. The Abuja Declaration to Roll Back Malaria in Africa, signed on 25 April 2000 by African leaders, states that: "We, the Heads of State and Government of African countries ...pledge to reduce or waive taxes and tariffs for mosquito nets and materials, insecticides, anti-malarial drugs and other recommended goods and services that are needed for malaria control strategies. " During the conference, Botswana's President, Festus Mogae, stated that, "For too long the focus on malaria control has been almost exclusively on the health implications of the diseases without addressing some of the fundamental determinants of the vulnerability of many communities to malaria. These include .... poor accessibility of health services to those most in need." Two years later, the Botswana government still charges taxes on treated mosquito nets. Likewise, the promise of Togo's President Gnassingbe Eyadema two years ago to "mobilize all good will, all energy and initiatives" in order to vanquish malaria has not brought an end to taxes on treated mosquito nets in his country, even though malaria is the leading cause of sickness and hospitalization in Togo. The 26 countries that have failed to drop taxes on treated mosquito nets are Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Republic Democratique du Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé & Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland and Togo. The 17 countries that have removed taxes and tariffs on treated mosquito nets are Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d`Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to a study conducted in cooperation with the London School of Tropical Medicine, sub-Saharan Africa's GDP could have been up to 32 percent greater now if malaria had been wiped out over the past decades. This would represent up to 100 billion dollars added to sub-Saharan Africa's current GDP of 300 billion dollars. The extra amount is almost five times all development aid provided to Africa last year. There are over 300 million cases of malaria worldwide each year, with nearly 1.1 million resulting in death. Over 90% of these cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of those who die are children aged under five years. They die because they are unprotected from mosquito bites and are not treated quickly enough with anti-malarial drugs to prevent the disease from killing them. Currently, however, less than 5% of children at greatest risk of the disease sleep safely under these nets. The cost of a treated mosquito net averages US$ 4.00 per net. The "Drop the Malaria Tax" campaign is organized by the Massive Effort. The Massive Effort is a global non-profit network that uses state-of-the art advocacy, communication and marketing strategies to mobilize society to reduce TB and malaria deaths in half, and HIV infections by 25%, by the year 2010. The Wall Street Journal 25 April 2002 Import Tax on Malaria Nets In Africa Remains in Place NEW YORK -- Two years after African leaders publicly pledged to drop import taxes on treated mosquito nets used to prevent malaria , fewer than half have kept that promise. Treated mosquito nets can reduce malaria -- transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito -- by at least 50% in children, according to a nonprofit organization called the Massive Effort Campaign. The campaign, a global initiative funded by the Swiss-based insurance firm Winterthur, a unit of Credit Suisse Group, and other corporate concerns and advocacy groups, is trying to pressure the 26 African countries that haven't yet reduced or removed such taxes to do so immediately. They say this is a critical step in combating the epidemic that kills 1.1 million people a year, mostly children under five years old in Africa. Currently, tariffs can add more than 30% to the cost of a bed net treated with insecticide, which, on average, costs about $6 or $7. Despite the majority of African countries' having done nothing to reduce the fees, 17 countries in Africa have either eliminated or significantly reduced them. Louis Da Gama, a spokesman for the campaign, says it is still too soon to determine precisely how many fatal cases of malaria have been prevented due to lower tariffs on bed nets and insecticide. But, he said: "Clearly cost is a barrier for families who spend $6 on meals for an entire week." --- PHA-Exchange is hosted on Kabissa - Space for change in Africa To post, write to: PHA-Exchange@kabissa.org Website: http://www.lists.kabissa.org/mailman/listinfo/pha-exchange