World Could Meet U.N. Goal Of Almost Ending Malaria Deaths By 2015, U.N. Special Envoy For Malaria Says

International efforts to fight malaria are “on track” to almost end malaria-related deaths by 2015, Ray Chambers, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for malaria, said on Monday, the Associated Press reports (4/25).

“Our goal is to reach close to zero deaths from malaria by 2015,” Chambers told reporters at the U.N. headquarters on World Malaria Day, the U.N. News Centre writes. “There is much work to be done – many hurdles – but we are optimistic that we can achieve that goal,” he said.

In a statement issued by his office and the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, Chambers said, “The Secretary-General’s malaria goals have galvanized funding and implementing partners, together with African leaders and others at the forefront of the effort, and the results of this partnership are translating directly into lives saved in historic proportions.”

The statement notes that more than 300 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets have been distributed in Africa and indoor residual spraying has been conducted in areas covering about 75 million people. It adds that 750,000 deaths have been prevented over the past 10 years due to better access to diagnostic tests and treatment. Almost $5 billion have been invested in RBM in sub-Saharan Africa over the past few years and the results have been “immense,” according to Chambers (4/25). Also according to RBM, “a total of 43 countries worldwide, including 11 African nations, have succeeded in halving malaria deaths in the last decade,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (4/25).

In its 2011 report (.pdf) to Congress, the President’s Malaria Initiative highlighted the latest WHO data on malaria deaths worldwide, which show that deaths dropped from 985,000 in 2000 to 781,000 in 2009, United Press International reports.

“These reductions are due in large part to a dramatic scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment measures since 2005, thanks to the collective efforts of national governments; the U.S. Government; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the World Bank; other international donors; and multilateral and non-governmental organizations,” according to the report, which “describes the role and contributions of the U.S. government to reduce the burden of malaria in Africa and its impact on health systems” (4/26).

World Malaria Day Events, Coverage

Meanwhile in a report on World Malaria Day, NPR’s Tell Me More looked at how governments’ budgetary concerns could impact the fight against malaria.

“I’m a very big supporter of U.S. foreign assistance as a way of promoting peace and stability throughout – around the world,” said Joia Mukherjee, a professor of global health at Harvard Medical School. “And I think as we look at our military spending … we see that this kind of force that we’re using is not really winning hearts and minds around the world. The treatment of malaria, on the other hand, is highly effective, prevention is highly effective and relatively inexpensive,” she said on the show. Peter Drobac, director of Partner in Health’s Project in Rwanda, also was interviewed (Martin, 4/25).

Inter Press Service reports on a World Malaria Day briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington.

“Eric Tongren, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) liaison to the Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI), cheerfully informed reporters that efforts to curb the epidemic were fast gaining ground. Though he acknowledged that a child in Africa dies from the disease every 45 seconds … Tongren congratulated the various global campaigns that are inching towards their goal,” the news service writes.

Dikembe Mutombo, the well-known basketball player, and Koki Agarwal, director of USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, also spoke (D’Almeida, 4/25).

“Five years ago, malaria killed nearly one million people each year – most of them children. In Africa alone, the burden of the disease cost the continent 12 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. Today we help save nearly 150,000 lives every year,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement issued on World Malaria Day (4/25).

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