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Sunday, September 24, 2023
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 2015 (IPS) - “Today, we celebrate major advances in our fight against malaria,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in a message marking the achievement of malaria reduction, as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
With just six weeks left for the MDGs deadline, the UN has announced that the MDG six targets to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015 have been met and surpassed.
Since 2000, malaria interventions have contributed to a 60 percent decline in malaria mortality rates around the world, averting approximately 6.2 million deaths primarily in young children.
In Africa alone, where 90 percent of all malaria-related deaths occur, there has been a 69 percent reduction in malaria mortality among children under the age of five.
This is in large part due to the global community’s focused and renewed elimination targets, making it the first time in history that fewer people are contracting malaria. Over 100 countries are already free of malaria.
“The world’s success in rolling back malaria shows just what can be achieved with the right kind of determination and partnerships. It provides bold inspiration to all nations that seek to create a healthy environment for their children and adults,” said the President of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft.
“We can and we must eliminate malaria by 2030. This will require full implementation of the new strategy developed by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the World Health Organization. In it, we have the path forward – I urge all member states to fully support implementation of this strategic plan,” he continued.
Founded in 1998, Roll Back Malaria (RBM) is a public-private partnership to coordination action against malaria. Its new plan, Action and Investment to defeat Malaria 2016-2030 (AIM) – for a malaria-free world, in conjunction with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for Malaria 2016-2030 plan, provides a framework to achieve malaria elimination by 2030 as put forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The plan includes commitments to reduce global malaria case incidence and deaths by 90 percent and eliminate the disease in an additional 35 countries. But to achieve this, continued coordination and investment is needed.
RBM and WHO stated that over 100 billion dollars is needed to achieve the 2030 malaria targets, with an additional 10 billion dollars to fund malaria research and development.
To reach the first milestone of reducing malaria incidence and mortality rates by 40 percent, annual malaria investments will need to increase to 6.4 billion dollars by 2020.
Though the costs are high, WHO stresses the benefits of such investments. The organization estimates that more than 10 million lives will be saved and over 4 trillion dollars of economic output will be generated. It will also result in benefits beyond the health sector as it contributes to goals to reduce poverty, improve educational enrollment, and increase equity and women’s empowerment.
However, international development financing has been low. In 2013, only 2.7 billion dollars were provided for malaria reduction and development aid is continuing to decrease, hindering the ability to maintain progress against malaria.
Representative of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat in New York Hervé Verhoosel highlighted the need to continue efforts. “We must ensure political commitment and predictable financial resources necessary to carry us over the finish line,” he stated.
According to WHO, more than half of the world’s population is still at risk of malaria. In 2015, 214 million cases of malaria infection were reported, leading to the deaths of over 470,000 people. The majority of those perished where African children under the age of five.
Malaria, a major cause and consequence of poverty and inequity, hinders economic development, damages food security, inhibits participation in education, and weakens national health systems.
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