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African ambassadors bolster malaria fight

afrol News, 27 October - Over thirty African ambassadors have expressed their readiness to bolster the fight against malaria - a disease that still proves to be the number one killer in Africa. They also pledged to support greater transparency and public accountability for the funds being used to combat malaria.

African ambassadors had made these comments after they attended a Roll Back Malaria Partnership event hosted by the World Bank on Thursday, a World Bank release stated.

As a way of providing a coordinated international approach to fighting malaria, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP and World Bank, launched the Roll Back Malaria Partnership in 1998. The partnership now brings together governments of countries affected by malaria, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, NGOs, among others.

Challenged by an emotional appeal from international singing sensation and UNICEF malaria spokeswoman Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the ambassadors agreed their countries would benefit from more clarity on how they are using funds and that donors should come clean on exactly how much they were contributing.

"I have been all over Africa and it is clear we must work together. No African country can achieve rapid scale up on its own," Ms Chaka Chaka said after a stunning performance in the World Bank's Atrium. "No one single donor can fund it all. No one UN agency can support it all. We need to work in partnership - with recipient country governments, with the private sector, civil society, and all donors" she said.

The South African pop singer, who is on her way to take part in the three-day UN Global Youth United Against Malaria concert, extolled the World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, for his leadership on malaria and requested his continued support.

Mr Wolfowitz proclaimed that malaria was at the top of the Bank's development agenda. "The Bank obviously cannot combat malaria alone and coordination is key. Demand for resources is outstripping supply," Mr Wolfowitz said.

"While the Bank, the US and the Global Fund are providing financing approaching US$ 1 billion a year, more is clearly needed including increased contributions from African countries themselves."

Mr Wolfowitz called on the ambassadors to demonstrate successes so that funding could continue to flow. "We donors must live up to our end of the bargain. As countries develop their plan and invest their own resources and achieve results - money should not hold them back from saving more lives."

The ambassadors committed themselves to be soldiers in the fight against malaria to improve infrastructure, ensure accountability, and stop losing 3000 African children a day to a preventable and treatable disease.

Zambia's ambassador, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika said her country wais making great strides against the disease with support from the Global Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among others, but emphasised that more resources were still needed to take these successful efforts to scale.

The ambassadors were to meet in coming weeks to discuss concrete steps that could lead to greater accountability and transparency and save more lives.

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