September 22, 2005

UNICEF warns of malaria epidemic in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Malaria could kill tens of
thousands of Ethiopian children unless donors provide $6.7
million urgently needed for medicine, a U.N. agency has warned.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a
statement issued this week that more than 6 million people in
Ethiopia, many of them children under five, were at risk of
contracting malaria in a possible new epidemic.

In 2003 up to 114,000 people -- including 80,000 children
-- died due to a major malaria epidemic in Ethiopia, it said.

"A similar number of people may die if there is another
full-blown malaria epidemic in 2005," the statement added.

UNICEF said a sharp rise in malaria cases and deaths from
June to August, together with the increased spread of malaria
parasites, were raising fears of a nationwide epidemic among
the Horn of African nation's 71 million people.

"High rainfall and epidemiological trends are adding to
concerns that an epidemic could occur during the transmission
session from October to December," the statement said.

UNICEF is working with the Ethiopian government's Roll Back
Malaria partnership to distribute 3 million insecticide-treated
nets from September to December 2005.

It has also imported anti-malaria drugs to help the
government's effort to control the expected epidemic.

Malaria is one of Africa's biggest killer diseases,
resulting in the death of a child every 30 seconds.

(For more news about emergency relief visit Reuters
AlertNet email: [email protected];
+44 207 542 2432)