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Improving epidemic malaria planning, preparedness and response in Southern Africa

DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-3-37

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The SADC countries have adopted the Abuja targets for Roll Back Malaria in Africa, which include improved epidemic detection and response, i.e., that 60% of epidemics will be detected within two weeks of onset, and 60% of epidemics will be responded to within two weeks of detection. The SADC countries recognize that to achieve these targets they need improved information on where and when to look for epidemics. The WHO integrated framework for improved early warning and early detection of malaria epidemics has been recognized as a potentially useful tool for epidemic preparedness and response planning. Following evidence of successful adoption and implementation of this approach in Botswana, the SADC countries, the WHO Southern Africa Inter-Country Programme on Malaria Control, and the SADC Drought Monitoring Centre decided to organize a regional meeting where countries could gather to assess their current control status and community vulnerability, consider changes in epidemic risk, and develop a detailed plan of action for the forthcoming 2004–2005 season. The following is a report on the 1st Southern African Regional Epidemic Outlook Forum, which was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, 26th–29th September, 2004.The Southern African region has a long and varied history of malaria control with periodic epidemics occurring [1,2]. These epidemics can be regional in scale, as in 1996 and 1997, or much more focal, affecting specific districts or sub-districts. The countries of the Southern African Development Community are committed to the Abuja Targets for Roll Back Malaria in Africa, and this includes improved detection and response to epidemics [1]. To meet these targets countries are expected to detect 60% of malaria epidemics within two weeks of onset, and respond to 60% of epidemics within two weeks of their detection. The countries recognize that to achieve these targets they need improved information on where epidemics are most likely to occur, and ideally some indicatio

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