Secretary-General's remarks and Q&A at press conference to launch Roll Back Malaria Partnership Report, "A Decade of Partnership and Results"
New York, 13 September 2011SG: Thank you Professor Coll-Seck [Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership], Ms. [Geeta Rao] Gupta [UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director].
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
Today we launch the Roll Back Malaria Partnership report, A Decade of Partnership and Results.
It paints a picture of remarkable achievement.
Malaria is on the retreat across the globe.
Since the beginning of the century, malaria deaths and cases have fallen by half in more than 10 countries in Africa, and in most endemic countries.
Millions of pregnant women and young children in poor areas have been saved from this lethal, yet treatable, disease.
Millions of children are in school instead of languishing, sick, at home. They come home to healthier parents.
None of this would have been possible without a fifteen-fold increase in international funding for malaria control – and without creating a new way of doing business.
In the late 1990s, malaria was the top cause of child mortality in Africa.
Yet few fought to change the status quo. Efforts were disjointed. Piecemeal approaches led to piecemeal results.
Achievements in Africa, Asia and the Americas were undermined by drug resistance and resurgence.
Then, in 1998, a new malaria initiative emerged from the gloom.
Three UN agencies – WHO [World Health Organisation], UNICEF and UNDP [UN Development Programme] -- joined forces with the World Bank to found the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
Ten years on, I appointed my Special Envoy for Malaria, Mr. Ray Chambers, who has further helped to bring together the private sector and all stakeholders in our common fight against malaria.
Our joint efforts have brought cohesion and resources to malaria control and drawn hundreds of partners under its umbrella.
Such multi-stakeholder alliances are the wave of the future.
We have saved the lives of more than one million children in sub-Saharan Africa.
And we have changed the way we think about malaria control.
Combating malaria has become a global health priority.
Three years ago, I called for malaria prevention and treatment programmes to be made universally available to at-risk populations by the end of 2010.
This was an ambitious goal, but today, I am pleased to confirm that 10 endemic countries have met their universal coverage targets for bed nets and vector control through indoor spraying.
These two interventions alone have reduced child mortality in Africa by an estimated 20 per cent.
This shows what can be achieved when all members of the international community join forces and align their efforts with those of developing countries.
But the work is nowhere near finished.
Although the successes of recent years are remarkable, they need to be sustained and expanded, to prevent the disease from resurging.
That is why our future goals are even more ambitious -- near-zero deaths by 2015 and the elimination of malaria in 10 additional countries.
The international community needs to go beyond business as usual, and all sectors of society will have a role to play: governments, international and non-governmental organizations, researchers and health professionals, businesses and philanthropies, celebrities and ordinary individuals.
Investing in malaria control is an investment in people, economies and nations.
I am encouraged by the rapid progress made in the past few years.
And I am eager to see this effort continue through 2015 and beyond.
Let me now turn to Professor Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, who will present the results of the report in detail.
Q: [Question in French, on whether African leaders are doing enough to fight malaria]
SG: Thank you for asking me a question in French.
The partnership and political leadership is the key in every development and global health agenda. That is why we are launching this report. We have seen much success but not enough. We are aiming at zero deaths from malaria. I am very much encouraged by what Ray Chambers has been doing in campaigning. I myself have been engaged [at] world leaders level. I may say that when I was attending the Japan Toyako G-8 summit meeting, I raised this issue particularly when leaders were sitting – 'I need one billion dollars. This bed net costs only $10, and we need one hundred million bed nets. That will cost $1 billion.' I appealed, passionately. At the time the leaders accepted, immediately, and they put it in the communiqué, and they agreed, on the spot. That was quite moving, that support at the leaders' level.
When I was in Korea last month, my wife joined this Bed Net for Africa Campaign, with the Korean business leaders. That she did again in 2009 with the help of big media support. That kind of big or small efforts will help. Now what I am emphasizing is that really, while world leaders and all countries are going through very difficult financial circumstances, but this we have to do. We have to save our children from unnecessary death. This is treatable, and curable, and preventable first of all. This can be prevented. I am very glad sometimes, very encouraged when I see a bed net which can have five children. One bed net saves five children's lives. I really hope that world leaders, when they come to New York next week, will refocus their commitment.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you going to ask for additional resources, additional money, and what is the target that you are looking for? Do you have a certain amount that you are looking for?
SG: As for the target, or additional funding appeal, we will have to discuss this matter and when necessary I will use all possible opportunities to raise awareness in support of this issue. We have been working very hard in addressing many health issues. Next week, we are going to have a high-level meeting for the first time on NCD – non-communicable diseases. Next week, again, I am going to convene an event - Every Woman, Every Child – as part of implementing this global strategy for women's and children's health. These are all comprehensively raising this issue. We are also making progress in HIV/AIDS, so we have a good ambitious target, to have zero deaths of HIV by 2020, no new infections, no discrimination – all these are very ambitious and very right targets which we are working together as a part of raising this global strategy as a priority agenda.