Sunday, 16 December 2012

MALARIA: financial shortfall threatens malaria efforts

From:William Brieger

Date:Sun, Dec 16, 2012 6:36 am
Health - WHO report says financial shortfall threatens progress on malaria. The World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report  2012 says the looming financial crisis is threatening to stall or even wipe out recent gains in the battle against malaria. WHO said in a statement Saturday, ahead of the release of the report on Monday that the current scale-up in the fight against malaria has saved more than one million lives over the past decade.
It quoted Ray Chambers, UN Secretary-General’s and Special Envoy for Malaria and MDG Advocate, as saying 'if we fail to come together and urgently resolve the funding shortfall, there will be no averting a humanitarian crisis.’’

'Millions of children can be saved in the coming years with methods that have already proven their success, yet we will lose this chance if funds are not mobilised immediately,’’ he said.

'We cannot allow so much progress to get stuck or even come undone, and I call on all of our partners to mount an unprecedented Big Push over the next 36 months to achieve the
Secretary-General’s vision of a world where no child dies from malaria,” Chambers said.

The statement said the WHO report disclosed that funding is urgently  needed to replace insecticide-treated bed nets, which have a three-year lifespan, and to expand treatment and diagnostic testing.

'If nets are not replaced, individuals previously protected from malaria become vulnerable, leading to potential epidemics. Children are most at risk,’’ it stressed.

On his part, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to UN  Secretary-General, said 'there is a great irony here with the financial shortfall. Ten years ago, the world said, ‘Show us that malaria can be controlled'. This has now been accomplished. The progress is unprecedented.

'Now is the time to finish the work, not to let up. With enough community health workers, malaria deaths can fall to near zero by 2015,’’ Prof. Sachs said.

The report further noted that approximately US$3.6 billion in additional funding is required in sub-Saharan Africa between now and 2015.

'In order to stave off backsliding and resurgences as early as 2013 and 2014, US$2.4 billion is urgently required, of which US$1 billion is required in Nigeria alone.

'This funding shortfall is occurring just three years before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s deadline for reaching near zero malaria deaths at the end of 2015,' it said.

For her part, WHO Executive Director Margaret Chan said 'we cannot achieve further progress unless we ensure that sustained and predictable financing is available. We must act with urgency and determination to keep this tremendous progress from slipping out of our grasp.'

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