Australia has committed an extra $25 million to combat malaria in the Pacific.
Through our international aid agency, AusAID, we will fund a Pacific Malaria Initiative to provide further support for health systems in countries most affected by malaria. The four year project included in the 2007-08 Budget will also fund research into malaria prevention and control.
Every year, between 350 and 500 million people are infected with malaria worldwide, and more than one million of those die. Not only does malaria cause enormous human suffering, it also has a devastating impact on both social and economic development.
Over the next four years we are committing up to $14 million to Solomon Islands and up to $6 million to Vanuatu. The initiative will later be expanded to include Papua New Guinea. The Solomon Islands has the highest incidence of malaria in the Pacific. Malaria is also one of the leading causes of illness and death in Papua New Guinea.
Our funding will:
- train medical staff in malaria prevention and detection, and provide essential equipment for malaria diagnosis such as rapid diagnosis testing kits;
- improve the accuracy of statistical recording and tracking of the incidence of malaria by training health officials in better use of information technology and statistical methodologies; and
- support malaria educational programs in schools, particularly in rural and remote regions, to teach young people about the dangers of malaria and the how to prevent it.
We will also invest up to $5 million in implementing malaria research.
We have established a Malaria Reference Group (MRG) to provide advice on the development and effectiveness of the initiative. The Group is chaired by Professor Sir Richard Feachem, former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Group will hold its first meeting on 17-18 May.
Over the past four years we have pledged $75 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Since its inception in 2002, the Fund has provided 23 million treatments to people suffering with malaria and distributed 18 million insecticide treated bed nets to prevent its spread.
The Australian Government also supports the World Health Organisation's Roll Back Malaria partnership, having contributed $7.7 million since 1995.
Australia will continue to work in partnership with governments, other international donors, non-government organisations and research institutions to help fight malaria in the region.
Malcolm Cole (Minister's Office) 02 6277 7500
AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 590