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Global health leaders convene to reaffirm goal of reaching near zero malaria deaths by 2015

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New York: Three years after the United Nations Secretary-General established the goal of ending malaria deaths by 2015 by first providing all people at risk of the disease with life-saving interventions, leaders in the global malaria effort convened to assess progress and discuss the way forward.

More than 300 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed in Africa alone, and 75 million people are benefiting from indoor residual spraying. Together with improved access to diagnostic testing and effective antimalarial treatment, these measures have saved nearly 750,000 lives over the past decade

“On World Malaria Day this year, there is much to celebrate,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a written statement . “Since 2008, more than 600 million Africans have been spared terrible suffering thanks to the distribution of more than 300 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets. In 2009, 75 million people also benefited from indoor residual spraying with safe and effective insecticides. Together with improved testing and treatment, these measures have saved nearly 750,000 lives over the past decade. Yet an estimated 781,000 people a year, most of them young children, still die from this preventable and treatable disease. To reach our goal of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015, we need an extraordinary intensification of our actions.”

Representatives from the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and the President’s Malaria Initiative – the three largest funders of the effort – and UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership echoed this sentiment.

"Near-zero malaria deaths by 2015 is a goal as feasible as it is worthwhile, and intensified and sustained malaria control will contribute to the achievement of six of the eight Millennium Development Goals, "said Awa Coll-Seck , Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. "Indeed, tackling malaria will save millions of lives, preserve the health of mothers and their children, keep girls, boys, and teachers in school, and drive economic development. Our results over the last ten years reveal the power of innovation and partnership. They also reveal the power of positive thinking. We must continue investing our time, money, focus, expertise and creativity towards what promises to be a great development success story. "

Investing in malaria is not only an entry point for strengthening primary health care systems at the facility and community level, but is also on the critical pathway to achieving all of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“The Secretary-General’s malaria goals have galvanized funding and implementing partners, together with African leaders and others at the forefront of the effort, and the results of this partnership are translating directly into lives saved in historic proportions,” said Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria. “By building on these gains and fully committing ourselves to the 2015 deadline, the prospect of ending malaria deaths has never been closer. The strength of our resolve will make the difference between success and failure, both in reversing the course of the disease itself and in the precedent for this approach toward achieving these interrelated MDGs.”