Anti-malaria efforts in Africa bearing fruit, but challenges remain – UN

19 April 2010

Significant progress has been made in combating malaria in Africa, but more remains to be done as the end of the decade dedicated to making control methods and treatments universally available approaches, the United Nations-led global partnership for coordinated action against malaria said today.

A report on malaria in Africa by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership shows a ten-fold increase in global malaria funding from external sources to nearly $1.8 billion in 2009, a five-fold increase in global production of insecticide-treated nets to 150 million, and a more than 30-fold increase in the procurement of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) to 160 million doses.

“Investment in malaria control is saving lives and reaping far-reaching benefits for countries,” said Coll Seck, RBM Partnership Executive Director. “But without sustained and predictable funding, the significant contribution of malaria control towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals could be reversed,” said Dr. Seck.

“Today, with approximately one third of the global investment needed, country programmes are saving a child's life every three minutes. This is very positive. We cannot afford to relax our efforts,” he added.

Data presented in the report confirms that of the nearly 350 million insecticide-treated nets needed to achieve universal coverage, nearly 200 million were received in African countries between 2007 and 2009, and countries have adopted more effective, but also more expensive, treatment strategies.

However, the proportion of African children receiving an ACT is still very low and data on the use of diagnostics is still largely unavailable. ACT drugs are recognized as the best for the treatment multi-drug resistant strains of malaria.

“With strong collaboration, great progress has been made in the battle against malaria,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “But more remains to be done as children and pregnant women are still dying of this preventable and treatable disease, especially in Africa.”

Two thirds of all malaria control financing is generated by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, with the United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the World Bank and other bilateral donors making up the balance of external funding.

Most of the funding is directed at Africa, where 90 per cent of global malaria deaths occur.

The report highlights that while total annual global funding reached approximately $2 billion by the end of 2009, malaria funding still falls short of the estimated $6 billion required annually by the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) to ensure universal coverage of malaria control interventions.

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