The African continent is loosing up to $12 billion per year of its Gross Domestic Product in scaling up malaria intervention programs, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO country representative, Olusegun Babaniyi said malaria remains a global threat to the attainment of social-economic targets, with three million and more cases and an estimated one million deaths annually.
Dr Babaniyi was speaking on Monday at the official opening of the Eastern and Southern Africa Annual Review and Planning Malaria Meeting, themed "Improving Malaria Diagnosis".
The theme of the meeting is timely, he said, adding that it serves as a reminder of the need for African countries to pay attention to diagnosis in order to eradicate poverty.
He said malaria has kept the poor people poorer, adding that it is consuming 25 percent of household incomes.
Dr Babaniyi also emphasised the need for countries to improve the health provider's confidence in malaria diagnostic results.
"The prompt use of microscopic examination in the diagnosis of malaria is vital, as it aids the management of the diseases by confirming clinical suspicion which also saves money and reduces evolution of drug resistance."
The lack of confidence, he said, in the diagnostic results by health providers emanates from limited trust in the quality of diagnostic services.
"It is for this reason that the WHO has developed a comprehensive manual on quality of microscopy and other diagnostic techniques in an effort to strengthen quality assurance and quality control in malaria diagnosis among countries," Dr Babaniyi said.
Health Minister, Brian Chituwo said the Zambian government has introduced Rapid Diagnostics Tests (RDTs) in most health centres around the country.
Dr Chituwo said the introduction of RDTs has since increased diagnostics services of malaria to 80 percent, adding that community health workers are currently under training.
He noted that Zambia has made great strides in eradicating malaria, adding that according to the 2007 Demographic and Health survey (DHS) report coverage of key malaria interventions such as the use of insecticide treated nets has increased to 60 percent from 10 percent in 2001.
"Prompt malaria diagnosis is one of the principle interventions for early and effective treatment in Zambia," Dr Chituwo said.
He said his ministry wanted to ensure effective quality malaria diagnostic services are strengthened at the most periphery health care centres in line with government's health vision of providing cost effective care close to households.