Global Malaria Action Plan – launched with billions

rbm-sm.gifThe Roll Back Malaria Partnership has launched the Global Malaria Action Plan around the world with the “collective input of 30 endemic countries and regions, 65 international institutions and 250 experts from a wide range of fields.” The goals of the plan follow:

  • Achieve universal coverage, as recently called for by the UN Secretary-General, for all populations at risk with locally appropriate interventions for prevention and case management by 2010 and sustain universal coverage until local field research suggests that coverage can gradually be targeted to high risk areas and seasons only, without risk of a generalized resurgence;
  • Reduce global malaria cases from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and by 75% in 2015;
  • Reduce global malaria deaths from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and to near zero preventable deaths in 2015;
  • Eliminate malaria in 8-10 countries by 2015 and afterwards in all countries in the pre-elimination phase today; and
  • In the long term, eradicate malaria world-wide by reducing the global incidence to zero through progressive elimination in countries.

At the same time the international community gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in the context of meeting the Millennium Development Goals to pledge support that would make this plan a reality.  According to the BBC, “World leaders and philanthropists have pledged nearly $3bn (£1.6bn) to fight malaria at a summit in New York. The meeting, at the UN, is looking at ways of meeting the Millennium Development Goals – targets on reducing global poverty by the year 2015. Donors hope the money will be enough to eradicate malaria by that time.”

Eradication by 2015 may be a bit of a stretch because according to the Guardian, “A key part of the strategy is the introduction of a vaccine against the deadly disease, which is now just entering the final stage of trials. Although the vaccine is expected to be only partially effective, it will still save thousands of lives.” Working out the logistics of delivering the new vaccine will take time, but that is not reason to dispair.

The launching and fundraising was noted in Uganda, one of the countries that could benefit. Uganda’s New Vision reported that, “Health state minister Dr. Emmanuel Otaala yesterday said the malaria toll in Uganda stands at 320 people a day translating into 115,840 victims a year. He said the Global Malaria Action Plan involved a combination of prevention measures which include use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, use of anti-malarial treatments and killing of mosquito larvae.” The New Vision accounted that the nearly $3 billion of pledges came from a wide variety of sources ranging from the Gates Foundation and the World Bank to DfID, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the United Nations Foundation, Malaria No More and even the Sesame Workshop.

AFP quoted Bill Gates: “”We need innovation, new drugs, and the most dramatic thing we need is vaccine.” Gates noted that malaria control programs “are achieving impressive new gains,” and that scientific innovation “could soon give us powerful new vaccines and drugs. “If we build on this momentum, we can save million of lives and chart a long-term course for eradication of this disease.”  In The Gates Foundation’s home town, the Seattle Times called the event at the United Nations, “a malaria Woodstock.”

Afrol News reported that these “Funding commitments will support rapid implementation of Global Malaria Action Plan.” This will only be possible if there is a strong health systems strengthing component, since as we have noted before, existing achievements are in many places still below the Abuja targets set for 2005. Rapid movement without attention to the systems that can sustain elimination interventions will never lead to eradication.

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