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African Leaders To Form Alliance To Eliminate Malaria Deaths

African leaders, who are scheduled to meet in New York on Wednesday, are expected to launch an effort – the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) – to eliminate all malaria deaths on the continent by 2015, the Daily Independent/allAfrica.com reports (Shokunbi, 9/22).

ALMA’s purpose “is to provide a forum for high level, collective advocacy to ensure efficient procurement, distribution, and utilization of malaria control interventions,” the New Times/allAfrica.com writes. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “The launch of ALMA is a critical step in the fight against malaria in Africa. Significant reductions in mortality are now being demonstrated in parts of Africa where target levels of intervention coverage have been reached” (Musoni, 9/22).

According to a U.N. release, ALMA is the brainchild of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Ray Chambers, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for malaria. “By creating ALMA and joining together in a cooperative effort to defeat this deadly disease, [African leaders] will reap tremendous benefits in cost-savings, efficiencies, and sharing of best practices-all of which will translate into millions of lives saved,” Chambers said. Heads of state from some participating countries will also be present for ALMA’s launch, including: Comoros, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and Uganda (9/22).

“Malaria is one of the biggest health and economic challenges to Africa, accounting for one quarter of all deaths of children under five, and costing the continent around $12 billion a year,” the BBC writes in an article examining the major issues being addressed at the U.N. General Assembly meeting (9/22).