Sunday, April 25, 2010

Despite dramatic gains, no room for complacency in war on malaria, Ban says

Source: UN.ORG

25 April 2010 – Although a massive increase in funding has allowed a “dramatic expansion” in the war against malaria, which kills nearly 1 million people a year and puts 3.3 billion others, half the world''s population, at risk, vigilance must be the order of the day against a tenacious, ever-changing foe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“Since 2003, international commitments for malaria control have increased more than five-fold to $1.7 billion in 2009,” he said in a message marking on World Malaria Day. “Though still far short of what is required, these funds have supported a dramatic expansion of malaria control interventions.”

Every year, there are about 250 million malaria cases worldwide, with people living in the poorest countries the most vulnerable.

Mr. Ban noted that those countries that could provide bed nets and treatment to significant proportions of their people had seen malaria cases and deaths fall by as much as 50 per cent, as well as an overall drop in child mortality rates.

“But our optimism must also be leavened with caution,” he warned. “Malaria is a tenacious foe. To sustain current gains we must be vigilant. Parasite resistance to anti-malarial medicines is a considerable threat, and the use of artemisinin-based monotherapies is the principal force behind its spread.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO), which last year reported the emergence of an artemisin-resistant form of malaria along the border between Cambodia and Thailand that could seriously undermine global successes in controlling the disease, has recommended the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT), and Mr. Ban called on the world community to remove all oral artemisinin-based monotherapies from the supply chain.

“The global campaign against malaria has shown what is possible when the international community joins forces on multiple fronts to tackle a disease that takes its heaviest toll on poor and underprivileged populations,” he said.

“Strong commitment has sparked innovation: creative initiatives have facilitated the delivery of massive numbers of mosquito nets ground-breaking partnerships are developing new malaria medicines and making existing medicines more accessible and affordable. The challenge now is to ensure that all who are exposed to malaria can receive quality-assured diagnosis and treatment. The advances of recent years show that the battle against malaria can be won.”

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