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UNICEF and partners praise new UN resolution on malaria, focus on next steps

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1983/Scott
At the Roll Back Malaria reception held at UNICEF House, from left: Roll Back Malaria External Relations Manager Hervé Verhoosel, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and Joyce C. Kafanabo, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations.

By Amy Bennett

NEW YORK, USA, 9 December 2009 – At a reception held at UNICEF headquarters in New York last night, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman welcomed key members of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, who joined her in praising a new UN General Assembly resolution on the killer disease.

Roll Back Malaria is a worldwide public-private partnership created in 1998 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Development Programme, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Adopted by consensus on Monday of this week, the General Assembly resolution declares that the decade ending in 2010 has been “a decade to roll back malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa.”

With the world body recognizing recent pivotal gains in the fight against malaria, it was a cause for celebration and reflection.

Global action plan
The resolution urges the international community – together with UN agencies, the public and private sectors, and foundations – to support implementation of the Roll Back Malaria partnership’s Global Malaria Action Plan. It calls on donors to step up funding for anti-malaria efforts and affected countries to strengthen their own national policies.

"In adopting this resolution, Member States, including donors and endemic countries, have reaffirmed their commitment to combat malaria," said the External Relations Manager for Roll Back Malaria in New York, Hervé Verhoosel. "Malaria kills about 900,000 people a year, but most of those deaths could be avoided with the right mix of prevention and treatment."

Also present at the reception were Minister Plenipotentiary Joyce C. Kafanabo from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations, and WHO Assistant Director-General Andrey Pirogov.

‘United Against Malaria’ campaign
At the event, Roll Back Malaria's Mr. Verhoosel introduced United Against Malaria, a campaign to engage and mobilize football fans around the world.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in South Africa, provides an opportunity to build support for the 2010 target of universal access to mosquito nets and malaria treatment in Africa – a crucial first step toward the Millennium Development Goal of reducing malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.

United Against Malaria aims to reach out to children in a language they will understand: sport. If a football player says to sleep under a bed net, the chances are greater that a child will do so, said Mr. Verhoosel.

Over 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, 85 per cent of them among children under five years of age. In addition to the death toll, malaria contributes to the cycle of poverty and limits economic development. The disease costs Africa at least $12 billion in lost productivity every year.

Time to deliver results
"Time and again we hear that basic health is essential to economic prosperity," UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro said at the UNICEF reception. "Yet countless poor people continue to suffer and die from diseases that can be prevented or treated. Malaria is a case in point.”

Three million people contract the disease every year, yet effective prevention exists. A million die from it, yet treatment exists. Malaria continues to burden economies, health systems and communities in many countries."

With just one year left to achieve the 2010 targets of the UN Secretary-General and the Roll Back Malaria partnership, there is an increasing need to maximize available resources and to implement the Global Malaria Action Plan in every endemic country.

"If we don’t, an African child will continue to die of malaria every 30 seconds," said Mr. Verhoosel.

"Together, we can help save lives in every endemic country and community," added Ms. Migiro. "We have momentum, let's keep going forward."



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