Policy Brief Infectious Diseases, Malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (drc) From: Secretary of Health, drc to: Minister of Finance, drc introduction

The Social and Economic Consequences

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The Social and Economic Consequences:
The devastating effects of malaria on the DRC are illustrated by the poor health of our women and children. Women who have malaria while pregnant are at high risk of giving birth to low birth weight children and both mother and child are at high risk of anemia and death.xvi The deleterious effect of high rates of malaria in pregnant women is demonstrated by the of one in 13 lifetime risk of dying due to maternal causes in the DRC and the infant mortality ratio of 129. xvii The DRC has the ninth highest under-five mortality in the world. Malaria causes a majority of the DRC’s under five deaths as 15,032 out of the 18,567 under-five deaths in 2006 were malaria induced.xviii
Malaria is both “a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty” for the DRC.xix Malaria is a major restraint to economic growth resulting in a calculated “growth penalty” or loss of GDP of 1.3% per year.xx Direct economic costs include the medical costs, payment for insecticide treated bed nets, drug treatment costs, doctors costs.
The indirect costs of malaria are of more of a long-term nature. Our children’s schooling and social development is suffering greatly under the burden of malaria due to absenteeism in school and other neurological damage related to severe episodes of malaria.xxi With malaria as an endemic problem in the DRC, even post-conflict, we can have little hope to attract any potential investment. While we may have little control over the war and strife ravaging our country, we can prevent unnecessary death and sickness from malaria as well as prepare our people’s health for a day of peace. The country has great potential wealth, with considerable mineral resources including gold, cobalt, coltan and diamond deposits.xxii However, the endemic rate of malaria in our country is creating an unproductive workforce who has little potential for ever benefiting from this wealth.

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