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Global Health Community Must Maintain Commitment To Defeat Malaria

“The Millennium Development Goals target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria is now in sight, and 50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria burden by at least 75 percent by 2015,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog. “However, major challenges remain,” he continues, noting, “Malaria continues to inflict a major toll on least-developed countries — primarily in Africa — and millions of people still lack access to life-saving interventions.” He adds, “Weak surveillance systems mean that cases are vastly under-reported; and governments and the [WHO] have too little information about where malaria occurs and how trends are changing, although improvements in data collection are under way.” And “[e]merging resistance of the malaria parasite to drugs, and mosquitoes to insecticides, are further complicating efforts to combat this persistent threat to lives and productivity,” he states.

“Recently, global funding for malaria control has plateaued,” Ban notes, writing, “Although half the resources needed to achieve near-zero deaths from malaria by the 2015 ‘MDG’ deadline have been committed, there is still a near-$3 billion annual shortfall.” He continues, “To prevent malaria from resurging, and to continue to alleviate suffering, especially in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, the international community needs to provide the necessary funding to protect all at-risk groups and support research and innovation to develop new tools. Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria should be a priority.” He concludes, “I urge the global health community, including political leaders in endemic countries, to maintain their commitment to provide universal access to malaria interventions and end needless suffering from this preventable and treatable disease” (4/29).