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Contacts: Ben Cheng, PATH, bcheng@path.org, + 1.206.708.5441; Jon Berke, Fleishman Hillard Washington, jonathan.berke@fleishman.com, + 1.202 659.5895; Pru Smith, RBM Partnership Geneva, smithp@who.int, + 41.79.477.1744; Michel Aublanc, RBM Partnership Paris, michel.aublanc@orange.fr, + 33.1.69.286.286.

Model predicts more good news: with increased funding, another 3 million deaths can be prevented

Washington, DC, September 14, 2010—A new report confirms that the current global investment in malaria control is saving lives and that further increases in funding will contribute significantly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health.

Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals—authored by Tulane University, Johns Hopkins University, WHO, and PATH—and published today by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)—reveals that the lives of almost three quarters of a million children in 34 African countries are estimated to have been saved in the past 10 years through the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, and preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy.

The report estimates that an additional 3 million lives could be saved by 2015 if the world continues to increase investment in tackling the disease.

Malaria causes over 850,000 deaths per year worldwide, the majority of deaths in Africa where the disease accounts for almost 20% of all child deaths. Malaria also threatens the health of pregnant women. In sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 10,000 pregnant women die each year of malaria-related causes, mainly anaemia.

Massive increases in the availability of insecticide-treated nets have been recorded in the last few years. However, directly measuring the impact of insecticide-treated nets, treatments and other malaria control efforts is difficult as health information systems remain weak, and the majority of malaria deaths are not properly recorded.

The Lives Saved Tool (LiST)—developed to be used across major childhood diseases—is being applied to malaria prevention across Africa. The report provides the first assessment of lives saved based on the level of coverage achieved with currently available malaria prevention tools. Although this does not include data on lives saved from diagnosis and treatment and is likely to be an underestimate, the results show just how much progress has been made.

“The findings from this report clearly show the efficacy of our efforts to save lives, especially among children in Africa,” says Professor Awa Coll-Seck, RBM Partnership Executive Director. “This is a vital tool which can help strengthen country planning and guide us all as we focus on 2015.” Findings from the report also show that the number of rural households protected by either insecticide-treated nets or indoor residual spraying has increased significantly, especially in the latter half of this decade. The report estimates that malaria funding in 2010 could result in 500 more children alive every day.

“This report demonstrates the critical importance of malaria control efforts to reaching the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” states Dr. Robert Newman, director of the Global Malaria Programme at WHO. “Without continued investment in malaria, reaching the MDG for child survival is unlikely to be reached in Africa.”

“While we've made great progress, much work remains,” said Rear Admiral (Ret.) Tim Ziemer, US Global Malaria Coordinator. “To reach the Millennium Development Goals, we must accelerate our efforts to expand not only malaria prevention and treatment, but also a broad range of community based health services. The Administration's Global Health Initiative is helping partner countries achieve major advances through innovation, integration and improved health service delivery in countries.”

Progress made in controlling malaria is still very fragile. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the largest funder of malaria control programmes worldwide, will hold its third replenishment meeting in November 2010, where governments will make financial pledges which may well determine if the malaria-related MDGs can be achieved.

About the Roll Back Malaria Partnership

Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals is the third in the Progress & Impact Series of reports published by the RBM Partnership. The RBM Partnership is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. It provides a neutral platform for consensus-building and developing solutions to challenges in the implementation of malaria control interventions and strategies. RBM is a public-private partnership that also facilitates the incubation of new ideas and lends support to innovative approaches.

The Partnership promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling, harmonizing and amplifying partner-driven advocacy initiatives. Founded by UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, and UNDP and strengthened by the expertise, resources and commitment of more than 500 partner organizations, the partnership secures policy guidance and financial and technical support for control efforts in countries and monitors progress towards universal goals.