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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman to mark World Malaria Day

NEW YORK, 23 April 2010 – “As we commemorate World Malaria Day 2010, there are only 250 days left to meet the challenge set by the UN Secretary-General for all endemic countries to achieve universal coverage with essential malaria control interventions by 31 December 2010.

It is unacceptable that around 850,000 people annually still die from a mosquito bite.  Of those who die from malaria each year, nearly 90 per cent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, and the majority of those deaths are children under five years old.  This shocking disparity is even more unacceptable.

The UN Secretary-General’s goal is achievable and real progress has been made.  There has been a significant increase in insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) coverage in several African countries, largely due to widespread national distribution campaigns with an emphasis on reaching those most in danger of contracting malaria: the poor and rural populations.

Evidence shows that malaria control interventions work, but they need to be scaled up even more to achieve the 2010 goal.

The dual approach in the fight against malaria - from better coverage of ITNs to increased use of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies or ACTs to treat patients - is what is needed to help save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Strong collaboration among governments, donors, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and faith based organizations, have driven much of the success in combating the disease and this must continue.

Fighting malaria yields other benefits.

Reducing malaria reduces the burden in over-stretched health centers.

Reducing malaria reduces the number of people who die of HIV and AIDS as malaria is a significant contributing cause to those deaths.

Reducing malaria reduces the number of people who die of malnutrition as those already weakened from lack of food are more likely to die if they contract malaria.

Reducing malaria improves the health of pregnant mothers and therefore improves the health of their babies.

The fight against malaria can be won and now the world must unite to ensure that no one dies from a mosquito bite.”

For further information, please contact:

Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media, New York, + 1 212 326-7269, bhansford@unicef.org

Christian Moen, UNICEF Media, New York, + 1 212 326-7516, cmoen@unicef.org

 

 

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