With new technologies and increased financing fuelling optimism in the fight against malaria, which now claims more than 1 million lives each year, the leaders of United Nations campaigns to combat the disease today pledged substantially more funding for improved prevention, treatment and production of a vaccine.
“This is a new era for malaria control,” said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Secretary of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, an initiative launched by several UN agencies to harness the efforts of bilateral and multilateral partners, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and research and academic institutions.
By ensuring an adequate supply of long-lasting insecticide nets and working with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the flow of the latest highly effective treatments, “we will demonstrate the true power of public-private partnerships by dramatically reducing malaria deaths,” she told a global anti-malaria meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.
The gathering – the ninth board session of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria created nearly three years ago on the initiative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – focused on the success of the nets, which embed insecticide within the fibres and retain their efficacy for up to five years without the need for being treated again.
“The Global Fund has committed nearly $1 billion over the coming two years and expects to scale up malaria funding substantially,” said Executive Director Richard Feachem, outlining plans to purchase both preventive and curative tools, such as the nets and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), a cure that so far has met only minimal resistance from the malaria parasite which has mutated to outwit previous drugs.
The Fund is also working with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership to provide the financial incentives that will bring a new malaria vaccine to the market. The Partnership was launched in 1998 by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank with the goal of halving the global burden of malaria by 2010.
Many of the malaria deaths and consequent impediment to development occur in Africa and Tanzanian President Benjamin W. Mkapa delivered a message of hope, expressing pride that his country was home to the continent’s first manufacturer of the nets.