"Malaria is a major killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa, taking a child's life every 30 seconds," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, who attended the announcement.
"This generous funding from the American people will save young lives. And it will improve the health and development of millions of children. UNICEF will do all it can to support the recipient countries to get the job done."
Malaria prevention has the greatest impact in saving children's lives when integrated with other child survival interventions such as immunization, vitamin A, oral re-hydration therapy, breastfeeding and others basic measures, UNICEF said.
The U.S. funding - more than $1 billion over five years - will support efforts to reduce malaria deaths by half in five African countries by 2010, and will be rolled out starting in 2006. UNICEF works closely with governments to support child survival in all five of the selected countries - Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Equatorial Guinea.
"With proven tools of prevention such as insecticide-treated bed nets, proven new methods of delivering them, and proven new drugs to treat malaria, we are in a position to make major strides against this killer," Veneman said. "We are grateful to President Bush and the U.S. government for this important initiative."
Halting and reversing the spread of malaria and other diseases is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2000. In the first World Malaria Report, published in May 2005, UNICEF and the World Health Organization found that although malaria deaths have held steady globally, more people are beginning to access prevention and treatment.
"This new funding will build upon the work done in the past few years and catapult countries forward in reducing deaths and illness," Veneman said.
UNICEF is the world's leading purchaser of bed nets that protect children and families from malaria. Last year UNICEF also played a lead role in jump-starting production of the active ingredient in the new class of malaria drugs known as ACTs.
UNICEF is part of the Roll Back Malaria partnership that brings together UN agencies, governments, non-profit organizations and other players around the world to combat a disease that kills children and undermines development.
For further information, please contact:
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York:
(+1 212 ) 326-7261
Claire Hajaj, UNICEF Media, New York: (+1 212) 326-7566
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva" (+41 22) 909-5716
Read, view, and hear more at www.unicef.org
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world's leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.