|© UNICEF video|
|At the World Malaria Day UN event (from left): WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, UN Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Global Fund Chairman Rajat Gupta and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.|
By Amy Bennett
NEW YORK, USA, 25 April 2008 – A bold initiative announced today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon brings together the many forces fighting malaria to focus on one goal: providing universal coverage of malaria-control measures in Africa, where 90 per cent of malaria cases occur, by the end of 2010.
Global health leaders stood shoulder to shoulder at UN headquarters in New York to outline a roadmap for success and rally governments, corporations, international institutions and private citizens to work toward ending malaria deaths.
UNICEF, the World Heath Organization and the Malaria No More partnership are among those who will now join forces on behalf of 600 million people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. They will work to provide universal coverage for malaria prevention and treatment by 31 December 2010 – less than 1,000 days from now.
“As we’re speaking, children continue to die,” said UN Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers. “And yet those deaths are preventable. We need to get moving because each day counts.”
Mr. Chambers emphasized that global efforts should focus not only on solving the malaria problem in the short term, but also on sustaining prevention and treatment so that it won’t once again spiral out of control.
“We can hope to bring morbidity and mortality down to zero with the universal coverage that the Secretary-General is calling for today,” he said. “If we succeed in full coverage … it’s important that we stay on top of it for years thereafter, so eradication or another vaccine can come along.”
Added World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan: “Malaria defeated the international community many years ago. We should not allow it to do it again.”
An integrated approach
As the world's largest procurer of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, UNICEF works closely with national and international partners to provide the nets – and antimalarial drugs – to children and pregnant women at risk. Mr. Chambers applauded UNICEF for its effective work on the ground.
“One of the things that is most essential in looking at how to scale up the delivery of nets is community-based, integrated systems,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “One of these interventions is, of course, bed nets, and one way to scale up the distribution is to put it into a basic package of services.
“We really need to look not just at distributing the nets but making sure people have the proper education – how to put the net over the child, over the bed, so that they protect people in their homes,” Ms. Veneman noted.
‘Let’s go to work’
At a formal event following the press conference announcing the new initiative, Mr. Chambers was flanked by Ms. Chan and Ms. Veneman; Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Rajat Gupta, Chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria; Peter Chernin, Chairman of Malaria No More and President and COO of Fox Newscorp; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute.
A message from the Secretary-General was delivered via video.
“In the time it takes me to read this message, six more children will die of this disease,” said Mr. Ban. “The toll it is taking is unacceptable, all the more so since malaria is preventable and treatable. Therefore, I am putting forth a bold but achievable goal.
“We have the resources and we have the know-how and we have less than 1,000 days before the end of 2010,” he added. “Let’s go to work.”
Rolling back malaria
Nations unite for World Malaria Day 2008
Roll Back Malaria Partnership website
(external link, opens in a new window)