|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on World Malaria Day
Marking World Malaria Day at a Headquarters press conference, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria and for the Financing of the Health-related Millennium Development Goals called for vigorous efforts to replenish the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Global Fund, Ray Chambers told reporters, was responsible for 60 to 70 per cent of all international investments in malaria. Joining Mr. Chambers in his appeal were Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), and Alexandre Manguele, Minister of Health of Mozambique.
Significant progress towards eliminating malaria continued, Mr. Chambers noted, with the Global Fund having covered 800 million people with 400 million mosquito nets. Deaths of children in sub-Saharan Africa were also declining. Statistics, six years ago, showed that more than 1 million children died each year from malaria. However, recent estimates for the current year were 500,000 deaths, with efforts continuing to reach the goal of near-zero deaths by the United Nations designated date of 2015.
However, he stressed, there was a lot to be done in the 981 days remaining until 31 December 2015. “We have to raise about $3.5 billion, and the most important step to get us there is the full replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” he stated.
Ms. Phumaphi described the impact of malaria as a “great economic threat on the African continent”. Nevertheless, the successes in combating malaria in Africa also needed to be celebrated. The 49 Heads of State and Government that comprised the Alliance met twice a year, not only to assess the progress being made, but also to appreciate the challenges that faced them and to seek solutions.
The mechanism used to assess that progress and identify the challenges and the actions needed to be taken, she continued, was a framework that focused on a scorecard for accountability and action. The scorecard assessed improvement on high-level policy areas, guiding Heads of State as to where they, their ministers of health and their partners needed support and where they could take action.
The framework, she went on to say, also focused on financial control, the financing of commodities, and the impact that the fight against malaria had on the continent. The success that had been registered with that mechanism, coupled with the commitment of the 49 African leaders, had turned the approach into a successful model of engagement in development; one that focused on accountability, results, effectiveness of interventions and economic use of resources allocated to development, in this case to the fight against malaria.
She also pointed out that a major positive outcome of that mechanism was the decision by African Heads of State and Government to remove taxes and tariffs on anti-malarial medication. Further, the banning of monotherapies contributed to the tremendous progress being made, with only two countries lagging behind in that regard. When the Alliance had first been created, more than 20 countries were behind in the banning of such monotherapies.
Mr. Manguele, speaking in a pre-recorded video message from Mozambique, said that World Malaria Day marked a moment of global solidarity and an occasion when the African continent joined all its partners to not only reflect on some remarkable advances, but to also move confidently towards ongoing challenges. With fewer than a thousand days until the goal of near–zero malaria deaths and other health Millennium Development Goals, the lives of some 4.5 million children — with malaria a significant contributor to those losses — needed to be saved.
Mr. Manguele — commenting that Mozambique’s President Armando Emílio Guebuza was to be the next Chair of the Alliance after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — said that in light of those goals, the international community’s work took on even greater urgency, urgency that needed to be channelled into action.
In response to a correspondent’s question as to why people were “still at war with the mosquito” in the twenty-first century, Mr. Chambers explained that the mosquito itself — only the Anopheles species, in fact — was just an entity that carried the disease. If the malaria parasite could be exterminated in every body and every region, it was conceivable those areas could be rid of malaria. The Anopheles mosquito, with an average life span of only 21 days, could only transmit malaria if it got it from a person carrying the disease.
That was the reason why bed nets were effective, he emphasized. The mosquito only bit after 10:00 p.m.; up to three children could be put under a single net. “But, we are dealing with mosquitoes now with dengue fever, which has became a whole new challenge,” he explained, adding that there was currently nothing on the drawing boards that would completely eliminate the mosquito.
Expanding on Mr. Chambers’ answer, Ms. Phumaphi said the differences in the geographical locations of the mosquito-prone regions also greatly impacted the methods used in tackling the problem, as the mosquito had, over time, built a resistance to the various chemicals used to control malaria.
To another question, Mr. Chambers said the initiative to fight malaria was back on track with some 140 million nets a year once again being produced and delivered, 36 of those in the first quarter of 2013. The earlier reduction of nets delivered to the continent had been due to the Global Fund’s “reform and structuring”. A good deal of money had gotten caught in that process, resulting in the funds not being there to produce the nets.
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