U.S. malaria experts meet in Ghana for World Malaria Day

U.S. representatives, malaria experts and chiefs of medical services from eight West African nations are commemorating World Malaria Day by sharing best practices, experiences and knowledge for treating malaria.

The West Africa Malaria Task Force is an African initiative supported by U.S. Africa Command meant to develop solutions to malaria challenges. The meeting of the task force started on Wednesday, continues on Thursday through World Malaria Day and concludes on Friday. Participants in the program include military and medical representatives from Togo, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin.

"We are excited about partnering with the eight African nations who are participating," Navy Capt. David Weiss, the command surgeon for Africom, said. "We'll share best practices about how to treat malaria, which adversely impacts all of our forces in West Africa. This is a great opportunity for all of us, and I truly believe that we are stronger together as partners."

Ninety percent of worldwide malaria cases are found in sub-Saharan Africa and malaria is the leading cause of death in the continent. The task force may help to alleviate the burden of malaria by leveraging resources from other organizations and enhancing civilian-to-military cooperation in African partner countries.

"The establishment of the West Africa Malaria Task Force helps fulfill both of these goals," Michael Hryshchyshyn, the chief of Africom's humanitarian and health activities branch, said. "This task force reinforces and benefits from other programs to include HIV/AIDS, disaster preparedness, pandemic influenza and humanitarian assistance."

The meeting is sponsored by the U.S. Armed Forces Health Center in Kenya which has helped Africa to fight malaria since 1973 by coordinating operations between Africom, multiple Kenyan ministries and the U.S. interagency.