Malaria is preventable and curable. But the poor don't have the resources. Thousands of children under five years old die each year.
Insecticide treated nets (ITN) are not available in some areas. And when they are available, their costs may put them out of reach of the poor.
Finally, the availability and cost of treatment repeats the same story.
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.