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Concentrating efforts on malaria alone is unlikely to sustain malaria control or achieve its eradication, say Peter J. Hotez and David H. Molyneux in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

They suggest an integrated approach, linking malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Together malaria and the seven most common NTDs cause two million deaths a year.

"In Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur, children and pregnant women are simultaneously infected with both malaria and a group of other parasitic diseases, known as the neglected tropical diseases," the authors write.

Anaemia often results from malaria and NTD co-infection, accounting for up to half of malaria deaths in young children.

Given the geographical overlap of malaria and NTDs, joint programmes for control are a viable option that is "too great for us to ignore", according to Hotez and Molyneux.

The authors point out that parallel efforts are necessary both to strengthen Africa's health systems and address the lack of access to essential medicines and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets.

The authors say this integrated approach will have a significant impact on the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals.

Link to full article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases