Responding to the growing threat posed by malaria, which causes over a million deaths a year, United Nations agencies and international partners today began a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., aimed at fighting the disease.
The Fourth Global Partnership Meeting to Roll Back Malaria, hosted by the World Bank, is drawing the participation of officials from 21 malaria-affected countries as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, the private sector, foundations, research institutions, donors and UN agencies to agree on methods to expand existing malaria programmes.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, lauded the progress achieved so far through the Roll Back Malaria movement, but cautioned that much remains to be done. "I hope that international and national agencies, encouraged by the progress, will commit additional resources so that actions to Roll Back Malaria can be scaled up and millions more can benefit," she said.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn called attention to the broader implications of the disease, pointing out that in many countries, malaria is now endangering development. "We need to work aggressively with local NGOs and with the private sector to fight malaria at the local level, and work with governments to scale up local programs into national strategies," he said.
According to WHO, malaria kills 3,000 children under 5 years of age, every day -- a death toll comparable to that of AIDS.