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U.N. Urges Sustained Support For Prevention, Treatment Activities On World Malaria Day

On World Malaria Day (April 25), the U.N. “warned … that malaria maintains its impact on less developed countries, mainly in Africa, where millions of people lack needed attention,” and in a message marking the day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “urged political leaders and health authorities of states where malaria is endemic to keep their commitment to achieve universal access to prevention and treatment of malaria,” Prensa Latina reports (4/24). “According to UNICEF, malaria still kills 660,000 people every year, most of them African children,” Xinhua writes, adding the agency “called for concerted efforts to prevent malaria deaths and illness, noting that insecticide-treated bed nets are key” to controlling the disease (4/25). The WHO “has estimated that $5.1 billion is needed every year between 2011 and 2020 to achieve universal access to malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment around the world,” according to PANA/AfriqueJet. The agency “said although many countries have increased domestic financing for malaria control, the total available global funding remained at $2.3 billion in 2011, less than half what is required,” the news service writes (4/24). In his statement, Ban said, “[T]he 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” (4/23).

In Cambodia, the WHO launched an emergency response to artemisinin-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia’s Greater Mekong sub-region, according to a WHO press release. “WHO recognizes significant accomplishments in preventing and controlling malaria, including in high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa … but urgent action is needed to fully eliminate resistant strains of the parasite and to ensure that [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)] remain effective,” the press release states (4/24). “Cambodia’s mortality rate from malaria has dropped sharply in the past 20 years and the government has ambitious plans to eliminate malaria entirely by 2025,” The Guardian reports, noting bed nets have helped to significantly reduce the malaria mortality rate. “The next phase in Cambodia’s battle against malaria is a two-year project to test the effectiveness of the mass use of repellents so their use may be incorporated in the government’s strategic anti-malaria plan,” the newspaper writes (Tran, 4/25).