|Dr. Sukwa noted that continued progress towards ending malaria deaths can only be achieved through sustained funding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The 2013 is a critical year for malaria financing, says Dr. Thomas Sukwa, World Health Organization, WHO, country representative in The Gambia.
“We now have the opportunity to work towards ending malaria once and for all,” he said at a press briefing on Thursday, April 18, held at the National Malaria Control Programme, NMCP office in Kanifing.
The briefing is part of activities marking this year’s World Malaria Day, WMD, for which the topic is “Invest in Future: Defeat Malaria”.
However, Dr. Sukwa noted continued progress towards ending malaria deaths can only be achieved through sustained funding. Without which, he said, it gains could be quickly reversed, putting millions of lives at risk.
Evidence has suggests that malaria control has a strong impact on economic growth and provides a powerful incentive for increase investments, according to the WHO. It said it is essential to maintain focus and attention in the fight against malaria at this “critical moment”.
This, WHO said, must include ensuring it is retained through the international development framework that will replace the millennium development goals, the so-called post 2015 Agenda.
“We have the opportunity to end preventable childhood deaths and economic instability caused by malaria, and the time is now,” Dr Sukwa said. “Never have we made so much progress in fighting the disease, and never have we had so much at stake to lose.”
Mr Balla Kandeh, deputy program manager NMCP, said WMD represents a chance for all to make a difference, be it government, civil society or individuals.
We can roll back malaria and help generate broad gains in health and human development, he said.
He suggested that private sector in The Gambia should join the fight against malaria. “The sector is the most competent to mobilize the much needed resources to meet the challenges.”
In 2008, the world health assembly instituted World Malaria Day as an occasion to harmonize global, regional, and country-level advocacy efforts to maintain progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control of malaria.
Historically, malaria was found in almost every country in the world after the Second World War Today over 90 countries are malaria-free and an additional 26 are on route to achieving that status.
|Malaria is preventable and curable (Photo credit: Novartis AG)|
Since 2000, over 1.1 million lives have been saved. Malaria mortality rates in Africa have decreased by one-third, and global malaria mortality rates have decreased by 26 percent, the WHO said.
Decline in funding
The track record shows that the fight against malaria is one of the best investments in global health to date. In the process, new tools (medicines, diagnostic techniques and approaches) have been developed to support the global campaign to eradicate this killer disease.
However, the WHO noted that recent gains against malaria are increasingly threatened by a decrease in funding, which is blamed on a global economic crisis and donor fatigue.
Africa remains the most affected continent with 90 percent of malaria deaths, of which, the majority occurring in children younger than five years of age.
Though funding of around $4.4 billion have been mobilized from international partners and African governments, the continent still needs to mobilize an additional $3.6 billion to fully fund malaria control plans and programmes from 2013-2015.
Africa’s contribution low
Africa’s domestic funding to malaria control stands at only 23 percent in 2011 compared to Asia’s 43 percent and Latin America’s 86 percent, according to WHO figures.
The WHO will led a three-year campaign to be launched on WMD under the topic “Invest in Future: Defeat Malaria”, to address this funding gap.
The decrease in support for fighting malaria particularly in areas where significant progress has been made has led to a resurgence of the disease, thereby reversing years of efforts and investment.
Now, the WHO wants to stay on course as malaria resurgence will remain a persistent threat until the disease is eliminated altogether.