Great progress has been achieved in recent years in the fight against malaria and NTDs. Since 2000 there has been a 60 percent reduction in malaria mortality, Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) has been almost eliminated, and the number of cases of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) has fallen by 90 percent in 15 years.
As Mr Lefroy discusses, the UK has played an important and leading role in achieving these successes. The UK Government spent £536m fighting malaria last year, and increased NTD funding to record £245m between 2011 and 2015. At the same time, the UK’s private sector, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations lead the world in drug development, research and project implementation.
However, there is much still to be done. Resistance to our most effective antimalarials and insecticides is growing. Despite good progress against a few select NTDs, we still lack effective drugs to treat diseases that affect over a billion people worldwide. Health systems in many countries remain weak. Above all, we know from bitter experience that if we relax our efforts to combat these diseases, they can come back quickly.
Therefore, Malaria Consortium calls on the Government to sustain, and where possible increase, its financial commitment to fighting malaria and NTDs.
“DFID’s Malaria Framework for Results is due to expire at the end of 2015 and we have not received a clear indication from the UK Government about how their commitment will be continued,” said Alex Hulme, Advocacy Manager at Malaria Consortium. “The threats to the progress made are real and it is crucial that the UK continues both their multilateral and bilateral support in the fight against these devastating diseases.”