The government of Ethiopia has launched a five-year, $447 million malaria treatment and prevention plan. Malaria is one of the leading causes of illness and death in the country, according to the country's Ministry of Health has reported.

"The disease has been consistently reported as one of the top three leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia over the years," said Zerihun Tadesse, acting head of disease prevention and control at the ministry. "In 2004 and 2005, it [accounted] for 16.6 percent of out-patient consultations, 15 percent of admissions and 29 percent of deaths."

The new plan aims to provide early diagnosis and treatment services, Tadesse said. Funding will come from the government budget, the donor community and other partners in the health sector. It is hoped that an estimated 68 percent of the country's 73 million people who live in malaria-prone areas will have access to treatment by 2010. The plan will also involve construction of health facilities and the training and deployment of up to 37,000 health extension workers, added Tadesse.