Leading global health experts told Capitol Hill lawmakers today that the fight against malaria is at a turning point, during a hearing on the US’ role in combating malaria globally.
The hearing was held today by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.
Ambassador Mark Dybul, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said in a briefing that because of a concerted and effective effort over the last 10 years to control malaria, the disease could be eradicated as soon as 20 years from now.
“We are at a critical tipping point in the history of malaria,” he said. “We are on the cusp of completely controlling this infection and ultimately eliminating it.”
Malaria affects 219 million people and causes 660,000 deaths each year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa among children under the age of 5, according to the most recent statistics from the World Health Organization. Over the last decade, more than one million lives have been saved, said Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in his opening remarks.
The Global Fund, established in 2002, provides around 50 percent of malaria funding worldwide, according to the multilateral organization’s US advocate, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The US is the Global Fund’s largest supporter, and nearly one-third of the fund’s $23 billion portfolio has gone towards addressing malaria.
The US expanded its malaria outreach in 2005 with the launch of the 5-year $1.2 billion President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) under President George W. Bush, with the goal of halving malaria-related deaths in 15 countries with a high burden of the disease.
PMI works in partnership with multi-lateral organizations like the Global Fund and has invested in a host of prevention and treatment interventions, including insecticide-treated nets and anti-malarial drugs. The program was reauthorized in 2008 under the Lantos-Hyde Act. It is largely heralded as a significant bipartisan global health success. An external evaluation of the program published last year concluded that PMI “has earned and deserves the task of sustaining and expanding the U.S. Government’s response to global malaria control efforts and should be given the responsibility to steward additional USG financial and human resources to accomplish this task.”But in the still uncertain face of sequestration and negotiations over the fiscal year 2014 budget ...