Apr. 25

Special Envoy on 4.4 Million Children’s Lives at Stake

by Ray Chambers

Notes that malaria mortality has already been halved in sub-Saharan Africa; continued reduction of malaria deaths and reaching other key global health targets within sight

New York: With less than 1,000 days until 31 December 2015, the deadline agreed to by 193 countries and 23 international agencies to achieve the Health Millennium Development Goals, 4.4 million preventable child deaths must be averted by that date to reach the target. Malaria accounts for nearly one quarter of these deaths.

Malaria mortality has already declined from over one million annually to half of that number in under a decade, which has helped to drive down “all cause” child mortality. This has occurred as a recent scale-up has led to the delivery of over four hundred million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs), expansion of indoor-spraying, and hundreds of millions of courses of treatment and diagnostic testing. Following a slow-down in net distribution in 2012, partly as a result of the global economic crisis, 37 million nets were delivered to sub-Saharan Africa in the first quarter of 2013, making it the highest quarter since 2011.

“Strong leadership within malaria endemic countries combined with increased financial resources has decisively turned the tide against malaria, and demonstrated what is possible for other health threats,” said Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria. “We have the plans and the collective will to finish the job, but the clock is ticking while innocent children’s lives hang in the balance. There is no room for complacency when we are on the brink of such a decisive humanitarian breakthrough.”

In addition to replacing expiring nets, increased access to treatment and testing will be needed to achieve the goal, especially in the private sector, where so many seek care. While a portion of the funding is in place, between now and the end of 2015, $3.8 billion in new funding will be required to fund and deliver all necessary commodities in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, with malaria cases on the decline, the malaria community will work with the UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities, the Global Fund, and other partners to explore how children who have fever but not malaria, receive appropriate treatment for pneumonia and other issues.

Over the next 1,000 days, the primary international funders in the fight against malaria – the United States, the United Kingdom, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (which contributes over half of all external malaria funding) and the World Bank – together with endemic country leadership and all implementing partners, will continue to provide essential support to these efforts.

The Global Fund, in the midst of a critical funding round, has set its sights on a replenishment of $15 billion over three years, or $5 billion a year. In early April, the United States demonstrated its commitment with a budget request for $1.65 billion for the Global Fund this year.

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