Increase funding for global fight against malaria

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A new study linking funding increases in the global fight against malaria to a drop in deaths from the disease also shows that resources from donor governments still fall short of those needed for maximum impact against the world’s fourth-biggest killer of children, according to a global health policy analyst at international aid agency World Vision.

International funding for malaria efforts reached $4.6 billion from 2003 to 2009, according to Roll Back Malaria’s report “Malaria Funding and Resource Utilization,” released today. The paper, which examines the past decade of the global anti-malaria effort, highlights considerable progress in countries working to rapidly scale up proven malaria control interventions. Still, the less than $2 billion now committed annually represents only a third of the global need.

With World Malaria Day just weeks away, World Vision cautions that unless donor governments increase funding and the U.S. meets the commitments signed into law under its Global AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria bill in 2008, programs will fall far short of the 2010 targets of halving malaria deaths and ensuring universal coverage with insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), and will fail to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

“Clearly, the increase in global malaria investments in recent years is now paying off with a substantial dividend of lives saved,” Craig Jaggers, global health policy adviser for the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, said of the findings in RBM’s review. “This illustrates that malaria interventions work — yet funding remains far short to fulfill Millennium Development goals and other global commitments, threatening the progress made to date.”

Each day, malaria kills more than 2,000 children under age five, making it a leading cause of death for young children in Africa and other regions. Still, malaria can be prevented and treated with inexpensive, proven interventions such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets and access to anti-malarial drugs.

“Using effective, low-cost solutions, tens of thousands of lives are being saved each year from malaria,” said Jaggers. “Accelerating funding will help ensure universal coverage of malaria interventions and bring us one step closer to ending child deaths from this entirely preventable disease.”

“Success against malaria is also driving a drop in overall child and maternal deaths in the developing world, a reality UNICEF recognized in its latest global health assessment,” said Jaggers.

World Vision, a member of the RBM partnership, concurs with the assessment of the researchers and analysts who authored the study, the first in the Progress and Impact Series of reports charting progress towards the goal of eliminating the disease and its death toll.

World Vision works in 62 malaria-endemic countries, 23 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, with experience in local communities and tens of thousands of trained volunteer caregivers who can assist with malaria interventions on the frontlines. The aid group’s experts urge malaria programs to emphasize grassroots, community-level distributions of bed nets within national and global plans.

Source: World Vision, USA

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