Bill and Melinda Gates have called on global leaders to embrace “an audacious goal – to reach a day when no human being has malaria, and no mosquito on earth is carrying it". They delivered the call to action at a forum of 300 leading malaria scientists and policymakers from around the world.
“Advances in science and medicine, promising research, and the rising concern of people around the world represent an historic opportunity not just to treat malaria or to control it – but to chart a long-term course to eradicate it,” says Melinda Gates.
Every year, malaria kills more than 1-million people, most of them children. A malaria eradication campaign in the 1950s and 1960s collapsed because of declining donor funding and growing resistance to drugs and pesticides. Malaria programs since then have focused on reducing, not ending, the burden of malaria.
“We have a real chance to build the partnerships, generate the political will, and develop the scientific breakthroughs we need to end this disease,” says Bill Gates. “We will not stop working until malaria is eradicated.”
Bill Gates notes that “a rush of new actors” – such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; the World Bank’s Malaria Booster Program; and the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative – are bringing new energy and resources to the global effort to control malaria. Together, these initiatives have committed $3,6-billion to malaria control, and will reach more than 70 countries.
Gates also commended African countries that have undertaken aggressive, comprehensive malaria control programs. In particular, he praised Zambia’s malaria program as an “inspiring example of a nationally-coordinated effort".
A new UNICEF report released at the forum documents the impressive progress of recent malaria control efforts. For example, the report shows that:
* The annual supply of insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria has more than doubled in recent years, from 30-million nets in 2004 to 63-million nets in 2006.
* Global procurement of artemisinin combination therapies, the most effective treatment for malaria, grew from 3-million doses in 2003 to 100-million in 2006.