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» 23.04.2010 - World Bank funding targets Africa’s malaria fight
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Africa | World
Economy - Development | Health

Major financial boost to tackle Malaria

afrol News, 25 September - About US$3 billion was committed today by world leaders gathered at 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit as an endorsement for an ambitious new Global Malaria Action Plan aimed at reducing number of malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.

Funding commitments will support rapid implementation of Global Malaria Action Plan, a new strategy, launched today by Roll Back Malaria Partnership with broad support of a united malaria community. Developed with input from more than 250 malaria experts, the Action Plan is first-ever comprehensive blueprint for global malaria control. Plan also demonstrates that by achieving Secretary-General's call for full coverage of malaria interventions by 2010, it is possible to save more than 4.2 million lives by 2015 and lay the foundation for a longer term effort to eradicate the disease.

"With about one million people dying from malaria every year, today's launch is a real and vital turning point," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "It brings together a new coalition of forces - government, private sector and NGOs - to ensure we all rise to the challenge of eradicating malaria deaths by 2015."

Leaders at the event, including UN Secretary-General, Ban Kin Moon, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Malaria; Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization; Peter Chernin, President and COO of News Corporation and Chairman of Malaria No More; Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Bono, Lead Singer of U2 and Co-Founder of the ONE Campaign, hailed recent progress against malaria and said that far greater gains can be achieved in the coming years.

"As a businessman, I firmly believe that no other cause offers the same potential return on investment as malaria," said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation and Chairman of Malaria No More. "The support committed by public and private sectors today will go a long way to defeating this disease and unlocking the potential of Africa."

On World Malaria Day in April 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for universal coverage with proven malaria tools by end of 2010, and appointed Ray Chambers as UN Special Envoy for Malaria to mobilise global support for action on the disease.

"To halt and reverse the incidence of malaria is not only a specific Millennium Development Goal, it is also essential to improving maternal and child health, improving education and significantly reducing poverty," Chambers said.

Global Malaria Action Plan lays out a detailed course of action to dramatically reduce malaria by achieving three goals, which include in the short, medium and long term, reducing deaths by half by scaling up access to preventive treatment; reaching near-zero death rate by 2015 through sustained universal coverage with proven anti-malaria tools, and, by maintaining near-zero deaths worldwide while eliminating malaria transmission in key countries, with ultimate goal of eradicating malaria completely with new tools and strategies.

"The Global Malaria Action Plan is a milestone in the international response to malaria," said Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. "We have had isolated accomplishments over the years, but this is the first time we have drawn together those experiences to produce guidelines to replicate success globally. Putting the plan into action must now become our number one priority."

According to the group, to fully implement GMAP will require $5.3 billion in 2009 worldwide ($2.2 billion for Africa) and $6.2 billion worldwide in 2010 ($2.86 billion for Africa) to expand malaria control programmes, while an additional $750-900 million per year is needed for research on vaccines, drugs and other new tools.

"Malaria control programmes are achieving impressive new gains, and scientific innovation could soon give us powerful new vaccines and drugs," said Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "If we build on this momentum, we can save millions of lives and chart a long-term course for eradication of this disease."

African Union has made fighting malaria a top priority, recognizing that disease affects millions of Africans and costs the continent an estimated $12 billion each year in direct losses, but much more than that in lost economic growth when examined over the long term.

"So many of our nations have been crippled by malaria," said Rwandan president Paul Kagame, adding "African nations are united in fighting this disease through Global Malaria Action Plan, and we commit to ensuring that expanded funding will be well used."

Latest data released by World Health Organisation show potential of malaria control to save lives, indicating that between 2000 and 2006, 25 countries with large-scale malaria control programmes reported reductions in malaria deaths of 50% or more. Worldwide, access to proven malaria tools is at an all-time high, according to WHO report.

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