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World Malaria Day celebrates progress made towards wiping out the disease

© CDC/Gathany
The blood-feeding Anopheles gambiae mosquito – one of the world's leading malaria vectors.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, 24 April 2009 – On the eve of World Malaria Day, 25 April, a new report co-sponsored by UNICEF shows that the world is on the verge of banishing malaria to the sidelines of serious global health issues.

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The widespread distribution of insecticide-treated nets is a significant factor in this advance. Their numbers have more than tripled in recent years, from 30 million distributed in 2004 to 100 million in 2008.

'A rare cause of death and disability'

The report – 'Malaria and Children: Progress in Intervention Coverage' – was issued by UNICEF, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and other global public-health leaders announced its findings today at a press conference in Washington, DC.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1515/Holtz
Children sit under their first insecticide-treated mosquito net at home in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, where UNICEF distributed nets as part of a national immunization and health campaign.

"We are, for the first time in history, poised to make malaria a rare cause of death and disability," said Veneman. "The report shows that endemic African countries received enough nets during 2004-2008 to cover more than 40 per cent of their at-risk populations."

But despite this progress, malaria still kills an estimated 1 million people every year – most of them children in Africa – and affects the health of more than 50 million pregnant women annually.

Global priority for child survival

The new report emphasizes that controlling malaria is now a global priority – one that's critical for meeting the Millennium Development Goals on health and child survival in Africa.

To that end, the launch event in Washington also marked the start of 'One World Against Malaria', the first-ever campaign to provide every African with an insecticide-treated net by 2010 and to end deaths from malaria by 2015.

"The report shows financing is now available to purchase enough nets to put Africa well on the way to achieving universal coverage by 2010," said Veneman.





21 April 2009: UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman talks about the progress UNICEF and its partners have made towards rolling back malaria.
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