I am very happy to be here.
It is wonderful to see so many champions in our fight against malaria.
This is especially important for Africa – where malaria hits the hardest.
Five years ago, I called for universal coverage for malaria.
I was moved by the world’s response.
That year, here in Yokohama, UNICEF launched its State of the World’s Children report.
Since then, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership has coordinated our actions. The Global Fund and similar mechanisms drove progress through innovative financing. And generous donors like Japan made a life-saving difference.
We doubled access to insecticide-treated nets in sub-Saharan Africa. This helped us cut malaria deaths by one third.
Now we are at a critical moment. Financial gaps threaten the progress. This is the time to make the most of our investments. Roll Back Malaria has proven? the power of partnerships to produce sustainable results. The Global Fund has demonstrated how predictable and strong support ensures progress.
Malaria is a human tragedy that robs families of their children and devastates communities.
It also takes a toll on national economies. For all these reasons, malaria must remain high on the global agenda in this final push to reach the Millennium Development Goals – and as look ahead to a post-2015 framework.
The economic argument is clear. Malaria is one of the most cost-effective health investments of our time. Spending just $1 on responding to malaria in Africa can generate a return of approximately $40 in gross domestic product.
Success against this preventable and treatable disease will require both domestic ownership and effective aid.
I am deeply grateful to Japan for its consistent support for investments in global health. I count on Tokyo to continue its outstanding commitment through the Global Fund replenishment later this year.
There are countless people in Africa who have benefited from Japanese aid for malaria programmes.
This is a global movement. We have many important advocates. One of our biggest supporters is the legendary US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. He once said, “In sports, you need to push to take the lead against your opponent. To finally defeat malaria we need to overpower [it] - the moment that we slow down on our efforts, the disease can come back.”
Let us push like champions to win this struggle for the children and families of Africa.
I am confident that by the next TICAD five years from now, we can celebrate even further progress against malaria – and we can see further proof that protecting people from sickness can help lift a continent out of poverty.