Charles Dharapak/AP
U.S. President George W. Bush gets under an insecticide mosquito net, used to combat
malaria, as he visits A to Z textile mills in Arusha, Tanzania, Feb. 18, 2008. (AP)

Global Leaders Pledge Billions to Conquer Malaria

September 26, 2008 03:51 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Thursday political, diplomatic and business leaders committed $3 billion to the Global Malaria Action Plan, which aims to nearly eradicate malaria deaths by 2015.

Race to Fight Malaria Gets Second Wind

Several leaders, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and U2 frontman Bono, met at the 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit to endorse the Global Malaria Action Plan.

“With about one million people dying from malaria every year, today’s lunch is a real and vital turning point,” Brown was said in a press release. “It brings together … government, the private sector and NGOs—to ensure we all rise to the challenge of eradicating malaria deaths by 2015.”

The UN had been rapidly approaching the end of a timetable it had set years ago to reduce the incidence of malaria in Africa in 2010 and in the rest of the world by 2015, sparking doubts as to whether it could meet its goal of nearly obliterating malaria within the next seven years.

But the Global Malaria Action Plan, developed by more than 250 experts on malaria given insight into the program, aims to keep efforts on the UN’s original timeline by prviding greater access to first-line defense against mosquitoes such as spraying and bed nets, as well as more medication. The bill for the Global Action Malaria Plan will likely come out to $5.3 billion in 2009 and $6.2 billion the following year. Another $750–950 million a year will be necessary for drug research.

Worldwide, more than 1 million people die from malaria each year, primarily children in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease causes flu-like symptoms, fever and chills.

In some cases, countries with more people at risk of malaria receive less money than those with fewer people in danger.

Timing anti-malaria efforts in Africa would have to “be very tight and will require an unprecedented degree of coordination among financing, training, monitoring and logistics” to be successful, said Scientific American.

“The toll of malaria is even more tragic because the disease itself is highly treatable and preventable,” President George W. Bush once said of the disease. “Yet this is also our opportunity because we know that large-scale action can defeat this disease in whole regions.”

Background: Reducing ‘the burden of malaria’

In 2005, the United States co-sponsored a UN resolution to roll back malaria cases—particularly in Africa—by 2010. Another provision in the resolution urges the international community “to continue working to reduce the burden of malaria by 75 percent by 2015.” 

The battle against malaria is being fought on the research front as well. Two Europe-based research teams are working to stamp out malaria at the source—in mosquitoes and within the parasite that causes the disease. Andrea Crisanti, who headed an Imperial College study in London, showed in 2005 that he could insert a gene into male mosquitoes that would make them glow green.

In another study, released on June 3 by a group of Danish and American researchers, scientists reported on removal of a gene in the parasite itself that would render it unable to produce oocysts, egg-like casings from which new parasites spawn. The team used a species of the parasite that causes malaria in mice for its study.

Related Topic: The price of anti-malaria drugs

Reference: Malaria; bed nets


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