Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More than $3.5 billion needed to combat malaria in Africa

WHO country representative in The Gambia
Dr Thomas Sukwa
Africa needs to mobilize US$3.6 billion to fully fund malaria control plans and programmes from 2013 to 2015, WHO country representative in The Gambia has said.

Dr Thomas Sukwa said this amount is in addition to about US$4.4 billion already mobilised from international partners and African governments.

Speaking to journalists in Banjul during a press briefing ahead of the 2013 World Malaria Day on 25 April, the WHO country representative said there is need for increase in domestic funding in Africa, where the proportion of domestic funding estimated as part of overall funding was only 32% in 2011 compared to 43% in Asia and 86% in Latin America.

“To highlight the funding gap, a campaign for the three years will be launched on World Malaria Day [2013] under the theme ‘Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria’,” he said.

History has shown that decrease in financial support for fighting malaria, particularly in areas where significant progress has been made, leads to a resurgence of the disease, thereby reversing years of efforts and investment. 

“Therefore, it is crucial that we stay on course as malaria resurgence will remain a persistent threat until the disease is eliminated altogether,” Dr Sukwa said.

Successful malaria control is critical to progress on all the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - goals 4, 5 and 6 - as well as making significant contribution to progress in other areas including reducing school absenteeism and fighting poverty.

Evidence has suggested that malaria control has strong impact on economic growth, providing a powerful incentive for increased investments. 

Therefore, it is essential to maintain focus and attention on the fight against malaria at this critical moment including ensuring it is retained through international development framework that will replace the MDGs, the so-called post-2015 agenda.

For the WHO country representative, Africa has the opportunity to end preventable childhood deaths and economic instability caused by malaria. 

“The time is now,” he said.  “Never have we made so much progress in fighting the disease, and never have we had so much at stake to lose.”

He pointed out that 2013 is a critical year for malaria financing. 

“We now have the opportunity to work towards ending malaria once and for all:  with sustained funding we can continue to progress towards ending malaria deaths, but without it, gains could be quickly reversed, putting millions of lives at risk.”

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