On World Malaria Day this year, there is much to celebrate. Strategic global investments in malaria control continue to produce results. Since 2008, more than 600 million Africans have been spared terrible suffering thanks to the distribution of more than 300 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets. In 2009, 75 million people also benefited from indoor residual spraying with safe and effective insecticides. Together with improved testing and treatment, these measures have saved nearly 750,000 lives over the past decade.
Yet an estimated 781,000 people a year, most of them young children, still die from this preventable and treatable disease. The costs can also be measured in lost economic productivity. To reach our goal of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015, we need an extraordinary intensification of our actions in two key areas.
First, scaling up the life-saving and cost-effective interventions that have already produced such dramatic results. We need to ensure universal coverage for all people at risk.
Second, providing timely testing for all persons suspected of having malaria, and effective treatment for those confirmed to have the disease.
Even these efforts, by themselves, will not be enough to conquer this ancient foe. Parasite resistance to our best antimalarial medicines is a major threat. We must respond by implementing our global plan to overcome such resistance.
Malaria is a leading killer of children under five years of age. Success in this fight is crucial to improving the health of women and children around the world, especially in Africa, and in generating progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals. It was with this in mind that, last September, I launched the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.
On this observance of World Malaria Day, I call on all partners to increase investments in both research and programmes to defeat malaria. Let us also build up human capacity in malaria-endemic countries; our continued success depends on the hard work and dedication of these unsung heroes. And let us recognize that a world free of the burden of malaria will be a safer and healthier world for all.