On World Malaria Day, UNICEF Calls for a Sustained Effort to Control Killer Disease
NEW YORK, 25 April 2008 – On World Malaria Day, UNICEF is calling for a sustained effort to control the disease.
“It is unacceptable that malaria still kills more than one million people, mostly children, every year,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Malaria is a curable and preventable disease that can be controlled by increasing the use of mosquito nets and other proven interventions, as part of integrated, community-based programmes.”
Malaria is endemic in 107 countries and territories. It is “a disease without borders” -- the theme for this first World Malaria Day.
Increased global awareness about malaria has contributed to a significant rise in available resources over recent years, thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US President’s Malaria Initiative, the World Bank, UNICEF and others. These funds are now facilitating the rapid improvements and scaling-up of malaria intervention coverage.
Since 2003, most African countries have switched to the more effective World Health Organization-recommended Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) to treat malaria. There has been a significant increase in global ACT production, from less than 4 million treatment doses in 2004 to over 100 million in 2006.
In 16 of the 20 African countries for which trend data is available the use of insecticide-treated nets has tripled since 2000.
“In Ethiopia, 18 million long-lasting insecticidal nets that protect against malaria have been distributed since 2005, and in Kenya 10 million nets have been distributed in the past five years,” said Veneman. “These successes show what can be achieved with concerted action. But with an estimated 800,000 African children still dying from malaria every year, it is clear that much remains to be done.”
If malaria is to be controlled, interventions must be further scaled up, sustained financing must be made available, and community involvement and leadership must be encouraged, alongside stronger global, regional and national partnerships.
UNICEF is the world’s largest global procurer and deliverer of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) with 18.8 million procured in 2007. More than 90 per cent of these were long lasting insecticide-treated nets that do not require re-treatment. These nets are distributed to pregnant women and young children as part of integrated programmes that include antenatal care and immunization.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.