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Report Highlights Gains In Malaria Fight, Documents Need For More Funding

Global funding for efforts to fight malaria, which stood at $2 billion at the end of 2009, have “helped to contain the disease,” but is “far short of the estimated $6 billion required annually to expand” efforts to fight it, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership said on Thursday, Reuters reports. The statements came as the partnership released a report (.pdf) that examined a decade’s worth of global funding for malaria and its impact on fighting the disease (Hardach, 3/18).

The report, authored by the WHO, UNICEF and PATH, “shows that external funding for malaria control by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, World Bank, and the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) totalled almost US$4.6 billion between 2003 and 2009,” the majority of which has been “directed at Africa, where 90 percent of global malaria deaths occur,” according to a multi-group press release.

“Considerable improvements in child and maternal health have been recorded in a third of malaria-endemic African countries where malaria interventions have reached high coverage, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia,” according to the release (3/18).

Reuters continues: “‘In all the countries where there is sufficient financing, we are reaching our goals,’ said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, executive director of the partnership, which is backed by the World Health Organisation. … In Zambia, for example, the number of deaths from malaria fell by 66 percent between 2001-2002 and 2008, according to the report. The number of children hospitalised with malaria fell 55 percent over that period.”

Despite such gains, “Coll-Seck said malaria remained a leading cause of child mortality in Africa. The partnership said last year the disease was claiming a life nearly every 30 seconds. In worst-hit countries it consumes 40 percent of public health spending,” the news service writes (3/18).

“Over the last decade, malaria prevention and control have been among the best investments in global health,” Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, said in the press release. “In no other area has there been such a direct and rapid correlation between resources committed and impact on disease as with investments made in recent years to fight malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. This progress is fragile, however, and 2010 is a key year for donors to decide if the health-related [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] can be met,” he said.

The Global Fund will hold a meeting in October 2010 “where governments will make financial pledges for 2011–2013, a crucial period that will determine whether the health-related MDGs can be reached by 2015,” according to the release (3/18).