U.S. Expands Anti-Malaria Effort as Progress Takes Hold

Each year on April 25 the world recognizes World Malaria Day to call attention to the disease that kills nearly one million people each year and, negatively affects educational achievement, worker productivity, and economic development, and to mobilize action to combat it. This year, a success story in development assistance is emerging in Africa, with global donors, national governments and local partners making major strides against malaria.

Across the continent, malaria control programs are scaling up efforts to protect people from this deadly disease and to diagnosis and treat infections with highly effective new drugs. Emerging data are showing significant reductions in malarial illnesses and deaths.

Partnerships with national governments and development partners, including, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UN Envoy for Malaria, which has mobilized thousands of partners with the goal of reaching the universal coverage of long lasting insecticide treated bed-nets by the end of this year, have made these successes possible.

The results in global malaria prevention and control are encouraging, but, as before, this progress is fragile and can be easily reversed. Therefore, as we expand and consolidate these gains, it is vitally important to ensure that our efforts not only sustain momentum, but also continue to adapt to emerging challenges.

Today, I am proud to release the U.S. Government six-year strategy to combat malaria (pdf) globally. By 2014, our goal is to halve malaria illnesses and deaths in 70 percent of at-risk populations, by accelerating and intensifying malaria control efforts in the high burden countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The release of the President’s Malaria Initiative whole-of-government global strategy also outlines contributions to stop the spread of multi-drug resistance in Southeast Asia and the Americas; increase emphasis on strategic integration of malaria prevention and treatment activities with programs for maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, neglected tropical diseases, and tuberculosis, through multilateral collaboration to achieve internationally-accepted goals; and intensify efforts to strengthen health systems.

The U.S. Government’s commitment to fight malaria is a key component of President Obama’s foreign assistance strategy and his Administration’s Global Health Initiative -- a global commitment to invest in healthy and productive lives and maximize the sustainable health impact the United States achieves for every dollar invested.

Over the past 50 years the U.S government has been a major player in coordinated global efforts to beat back major killers like smallpox, polio and measles. With sufficient and sustained international commitment, we continue to achieve sustainable progress for malaria as well.

Rear Adm. (RET) Tim Ziemer is the coordinator of U.S. Global Malaria Programs

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