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Contacts: Preeti Singh or Joe Sutherland, 301.652.1558, psingh@burnesscommunications.com; Coimbra Sirica, 631.757.4027.

Geneva, May 19, 2005— A major partnership was launched today to demonstrate the enormous potential to save lives with existing malaria control interventions and identify specific ways that African governments can implement malaria control strategies most effectively. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds, 3,000 every day. The partnership was announced during the 58 th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) is an in-country collaboration between PATH, the Government of Zambia, and the Zambia Roll Back Malaria Partnership to accelerate and document the impact of progress toward meeting Zambia’s malaria control targets. The immediate goals of the partnership are to support coordination of rapid scale-up using proven malaria control strategies—including insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor mosquito control, and effective medication—to reach 80 percent of Zambia’s population and to cut deaths due to malaria by 75 percent within three years. The initiative, supported by a new, nine-year US$35 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is intended to serve as a model for how other African nations can cut malaria deaths dramatically.

MACEPA’s global partners include the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and the World Bank, which are committed to working closely to coordinate country program financing and the provision of technical assistance. With country leadership, MACEPA will provide vital technical support for program planning, implementation, performance monitoring, and the development of impact evaluation systems that will document, in human and economic terms, the importance of continued investment in malaria control in Zambia and serve as a model for use in other countries.

“MACEPA will serve as a model for how to use the tools we have today in an unprecedented assault against this killer of children,” said Carlos C. ( Kent) Campbell, MACEPA program director at PATH. “The new partnership will also have the flexibility to address logistical or financial bottlenecks that might otherwise bring a project to a grinding halt.”

The Honorable Brian Chituwo, Zambia’s Minister of Health, said that the social and economic impact of the disease—responsible for 40 percent of child deaths in the country—had prompted the government to make malaria control a priority.

“There is a tremendous need for programs that work in combating malaria, which kills more than one million people every year, most of them African children,” Chituwo said. “We will control malaria in Zambia and show the world that not only can malaria be controlled, but that it must be controlled now.”

Chituwo says that the questions Campbell and the PATH team are asking national program administrators and partners are already leading those involved to think differently about how to get things done. “We want to know what each partner is committed to in our national plan to reduce the burden of malaria,” Chituwo said. “MACEPA is helping partners to be more flexible and to provide what is needed by our national program. We expect that MACEPA will help us learn from the failures and successes in other disease areas; and what lessons can be learned from thriving special initiatives, such as the copper mines’ substantial efforts to protect workers and their families from the health and economic devastation of malaria.”

“We think that this partnership can establish the value of scaled-up, national malaria control as the gold standard in Africa,” said Regina Rabinovich, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Infectious Diseases Program. “A successful program of this magnitude will encourage both donor countries and developing countries to devote greater resources to fighting malaria. The Gates Foundation’s goal is to demonstrate what can be achieved with existing malaria tools.”

The Zambian Ministry of Health will coordinate efforts to purchase, transport, and distribute hundreds of thousands of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, thousands of doses of an effective drug treatment known as artemisinin combination therapy, and enough insecticide to spray the walls of eligible homes in Zambia.

MACEPA plans to identify and fill critical gaps in Zambia’s malaria control program. It will:

  • Support state-of-the-art data management systems and the use of real-time data for decision making and program improvement.
  • Support district- and community-level approaches to controlling the disease.
  • Help target resources to identify and address critical staffing shortages or employee training needs.
  • Provide expertise in malaria control to ensure that malaria control programs are as efficient and effective as possible.
  • Support Zambia with monitoring and evaluating the health and economic impact of controlling malaria.

Public health authorities agree that new and effective drug treatment, combined with a series of measures to keep mosquitoes away from their human prey, will save lives and reduce illness. And yet effective malaria control has proved a challenge, particularly in Africa, where the disease burden continues to grow. The burden of the disease is straining health systems across the continent and slowing economic development.

“The solution is to put into place strong and sustained malaria control efforts on the ground,” notes Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Secretary of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, an initiative created in 1998 by WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the World Bank. “We have seen that adequate financing is crucial, but it is not the only major factor for malaria control. With this collaborative approach on the part of all the players, along with monitoring and evaluation supported by MACEPA, we are confident that Zambia will succeed in scaling up coverage with effective interventions, particularly among the poor who are the hardest to reach and the most at risk of malaria.”

“MACEPA’s mission is very much in line with our new Global Strategy and Booster Program for malaria,” says Jacques Baudouy, Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank. “Working together with multiple partners, we will support countries to achieve impact at the country level more rapidly and on a larger scale. It is good for health and for economic growth.”

“During the time the Global Fund has collaborated with Zambia, we have found that the Zambian people and their leaders have shown tremendous resolve in their commitment to controlling and preventing malaria,” said Richard Feachem, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. “We are confident that this new partnership with PATH will accelerate the country’s efforts to save the lives of thousands more of its citizens, and we look forward to continuing to do our part.”