U.S. To Play Leading Role in Ending Malaria Deaths by 2015, U.N. Ambassador Says
President Barack Obama wants the United States to take a leading role in the global effort to end the almost one million annual malaria deaths by 2015, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will say Friday in a malaria summit keynote address released to the media, AP/Google.com reports.
World leaders as well as American and African faith leaders will attend the summit in advance of tomorrow's World Malaria Day and are expected "to launch a campaign to mobilize resources to help interfaith institutions in Africa fight malaria more effectively through increased mosquito net distribution (ITN) and local community education."
On World Malaria Day last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined a multi-pronged strategy aimed at ending malaria deaths by 2010. Rice's timetable is five years longer, AP/Google.com reports. According to Rice, there are "effective and affordable drugs to treat malaria and related illnesses" and a variety of "reliable ways to prevent" the disease, including ITNs, indoor spraying, as well as "safe, inexpensive drugs that can be provided to pregnant women."
For almost half of the world's population, malaria is still "one of the greatest threats to public health - a disease that plunges families into poverty, rattles already shaky public health systems, and steals Africa's children away from her," Rice said, adding that "we will never be able to fully tally" the "human cost" of the almost 3,000 people that die each day of malaria - about 90% of whom are children younger than 5 years old (Lederer, AP/Google.com, 4/23).
VOA News recently published an editorial by the U.S. government that outlines the country's worldwide development assistance program, which "substantially increased" in 2008.
The growth of this assistance is due to expanded U.S. programs in several areas, including "global health and HIV/AIDS, humanitarian assistance, and economic growth," according to the editorial. The editorial says developing countries received $26 billion in U.S. assistance and that aid to the Least Developed Countries increased by more than 40% in 2008 (VOA News, 4/22).
Scientific Advances Herald World Malaria Day
Researchers have found that when immune cells tasked with "tamping down overactive immune responses" kick into high gear, patients can develop a more serious case of malaria, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Neergaard, AP/Boston Globe, 4/24). The cells block the immune system and allow the malaria parasite to "grow uncontrollably," one of the researchers told Reuters (Lyn, Reuters, 4/24). The finding, by an international group led by Australian scientists at Monash University, was published in PLoS Pathogens and is available online (AP/Boston Globe, 4/24).
Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Glasgow say they have developed a microchip that tests blood samples for malaria, delivering results in minutes. The chip is also designed to detect particular strains of the disease, helping health workers choose the best drug to treat it (BBC, 2/24).
WHO Says Zambia Is Role Model For Africa After Country Reduces Malaria Deaths by 66%
Malaria deaths in Zambia have fallen by more than 66% since the year 2000, and the country's malaria control efforts will be highlighted on World Malaria Day as a model for other countries to follow, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, AFP/Google.com reports.
The distribution of 3.6 million long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets over the last few years has helped combat the disease, according to the WHO, and has broadened access to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). The country has reached the 2010 "Roll Back Malaria" target of a more than 50% reduction in the number of malaria deaths since 2000, according to a WHO release.
Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO regional director for Africa, called Zambia's results a "remarkable achievement" and said that all countries that are affected by malaria should "intensify and sustain malaria control and elimination efforts in order to meet the 2010 goal of 100% coverage" (WHO release, 4/23).
New Drug-Resistant Malaria Strain in Asia Threatens Global Malaria Control, WHO Official Says
A new strain of malaria found near the Cambodian-Thai border appears to be resistant to artemisinin and is threatening global efforts to control and eradicate the disease, said Shin Young-soo, regional director of the World Health Organization Western Pacific area, on Friday, Reuters reports. Recent clinical tests on a group of between 20 and 50 people suspected of having the new strain confirmed that it was becoming resistant, said Eva Christophel, a WHO malaria expert, adding that the scientific evidence is "very unusual" and "really worrying" (Reuters, 4/24).
Editorials Examine Malaria Control Issues before World Malaria Day
- In the midst of the "most severe economic crisis in generations," there is "one investment we can't afford to ignore: malaria control," writes Peter Chernin - News Corporation president and COO who is also the chairman of Malaria No More and a member of the board of directors of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria - in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Chernin writes, "The U.S. has taken a strong leadership role in funding the prevention and treatment of malaria world-wide. While the idea of cutting that funding during an economic downturn may seem appealing, doing so would forfeit our chance to finally reach the tipping point with this devastating disease." Cherin adds that malaria is a "disease we can completely eliminate - right now" (Chernin, Wall Street Journal, 4/24).
- Friday's "One World Against Malaria" summit sends a clear message: "interfaith cooperation is the key to reaching the U.N. Secretary General's ambitious goals for malaria," religion columnist Timothy Shriver writes on Thursday in the Washington Post's On Faith blog. "While legitimate reasons have kept faith-based organizations and our government at arm's length in the past, the urgency" of fighting malaria and other diseases and the "massive potential of the faith community to make a difference" has "never been greater," according to Shriver (Shriver, Washington Post, On Faith, 4/23).
Other opinion pieces about World Malaria Day are listed below:
- "A New Push To Combat Malaria," Financial Times, 4/23 by editorial staff.
- "Interfaith Action Would Help Bring a Malaria-Free World," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/24 by John M. Bridgeland, vice chairman of Malaria No More, and Jean Duff, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Action to End Global Poverty.
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