Emphasizing that malaria kills more than 1 million people every year, the United Nations today hailed United States President George W. Bush's major new commitment of more than $1 billion to fund prevention and treatment in Africa as a great step forward in fighting a disease that casts a terrible shadow across the continent.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted the initiative would provide much needed impetus in fighting a disease which claims the life of a child every 30 seconds, representing an important step in the commitment of developed countries to provide the resources necessary to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets aimed at reducing a host of socio-economic ills such as extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan voiced the hope that this commitment will be demonstrated by leaders of the G8 industrialized nations at their meeting next week and at the World Summit in New York in September preceding the 60th session of the UN General Assembly.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) called the initiative, which provides funding of more than $1 billion over five years, a great step forward for child health and survival, noting that malaria is a major killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa.
"This generous funding from the American people will save young lives. And it will improve the health and development of millions of children," UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said. "UNICEF will do all it can to support the recipient countries to get the job done," she added of the initiative, which provides funding of $1.2 billion over five years.
"With proven tools of prevention such as insecticide-treated bed nets, proven new methods of delivering them, and proven new drugs to treat malaria, we are in a position to make major strides against this killer," she said.
The Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Lee Jong-wook, called the US initiative a timely and substantial boost to global efforts against the disease.
"Malaria casts a terrible shadow across the African continent," he said. "It kills more than one million people every year, most of them children.
Noting that Mr. Bush challenged other donors, foundations and organizations from the public and private sector to contribute to the struggle against malaria, he added: "The World Health Organization looks forward to continuing to work closely with the United States Government and other partners to pursue the global goal of rolling back malaria."