By Chioma Obinna
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria yesterday said new advances in science and implementation have given the global community the opportunity to control malaria and remove it as a threat to global health.
Executive Director of the Global Fund, Mark Dybul in a statement to mark World Malaria Day stressed the need for partners in the fight against malaria to expand and intensify efforts with a view to transforming the disease from a worldwide killer into a manageable and treatable disease.
His words, “We can defeat malaria, if we work together, said Dybul.
“We have a chance to control it and sharply reduce the number of children who die from it each year. If we don’t act decisively, we will be counting the cost for generations.” Huge progress has been made against malaria over the past decade, driven by simple scientific advances like mosquito nets treated with insecticide, quicker diagnostic tests and more effective antimalarial drugs. Better implementation, in programs supported by the Global Fund, has led to the distribution of more than 310 million nets, far broader access to rapid diagnostic tests and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy.
“But these gains could now be in jeopardy. A resurgence of malaria may occur unless increased funding is provided to expand efforts to control the disease. Experts warn that a decline in anti-malarial efforts could quickly allow a return to pre-2000 levels of mortality, when 1.2 million people died from malaria. Today, the total is roughly half that amount.
Dybul singled out partners like the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Financing Health MDGs and for Malaria, Ray Chambers, for their success in raising awareness of the critical need to increase funding.
Earlier this month, the Global Fund announced a target of raising US$15 billion for the 2014-2016 period. When combined with other sources of funding, that will enable global partners to have a transformative effect on AIDS, TB and malaria.
For malaria, resources would be targeted to achieve universal coverage of insecticide-treated nets and access to effective treatment in the 18 highest-burden countries, where most malaria deaths occur. An additional 200,000 lives could be saved every year than with the funding that is currently available.
The new funding model recently launched by the Global Fund is expected to achieve greater impact by encouraging ambitious programs and by focusing interventions and financing for specific populations and catchment areas. By reaching highly vulnerable, marginalized and stigmatized groups, including women and girls, sex workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, people in prison and migrants, more programs will maximize impact while advancing human rights.
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