Reassurance on malaria commitment needed as economic woes grow

The past few weeks have seen economic changes last experienced during the Great Depression of 80 years past.  David Rothkopf observed in the Washington Post that the shock may be greater than that experienced post-9/11. “That’s because while 9/11 changed the way we view the world, the current financial crisis has changed the way the world views us. And it will also change, in some very fundamental ways, the way the world works.” The economic crisis will cost the US government more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for investors and the public, the Wall Street plunge of Monday cost more that the $700 billion financial package that just passed the US Congress.

According to the New York Times, “The (financial) crisis has become the biggest financial challenge for European policymakers since the introduction of the euro as a Continent-wide currency in 1999.” On Saturday, “the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and Italy pledged to prevent a bankruptcy on this side of the Atlantic.”

Under the circumstances one might wonder if the US and other G8 countries can maintain their commitment to fighting disease in the world. This may or may not have been responsible for comments reported Friday on GhanaWeb:  “The US Ambassador to Ghana Mr Donald Gene Teitelbaum on Friday assured Ghanaians that the fight against malaria remained a priority on President George Bush’s agenda. He said it was the President’s wish that there will be a time when the two countries will meet and celebrate the wiping away of malaria from Ghana and Africa as whole.

These economic threats come at a time when the Global Fund is aiming for a larger grant porfolio, the World Bank is substantially ‘boosting’ its support, and new funding mechanisms like the Affordable Medicine Facility – malaria (AMFm) may be coming on line. Malaria advocates need to monitor the situation closely, especially if progress highlighted in the recently released World Malaria Report of 2008 is to be sustained.

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