This year’s world malaria day has the global theme: Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria. This message could not come at a better time. The global effort to tackle malaria has picked up pace in recent years and impressive achievements in reducing the impact of malaria on some of the world’s poorest people have been made. Since 2000, malaria deaths - mostly among young children - are estimated to have fallen by 20 percent. But this impetus must be maintained or there is a very serious risk of these gains being lost.
On this World Malaria Day 2012, Malaria Consortium would like to celebrate those who have helped bring about the fall in the number of malaria deaths, particularly among young children in Africa.
Among those who deserve recognition are community health workers. Community health workers are being trained through projects like Malaria Consortium’s inSCALE and Comic Relief Pioneer projects that improve access to life saving treatments to children in rural areas where formal health services are too distant. Community health workers who are trained, equipped and motivated can effectively deliver treatment that can reduce child deaths from infectious diseases by up to 60 percent. However, it is critical that the support, training and supervision these health workers need can be sustained over time and standards of care ensured. This requires investment by national governments as much as it requires continued support from donors to ensure that these critical, front line health workers are preserved for as long as they are needed.
Funding for malaria has been high on the development news agenda over the last year, with the largest single source of international financing, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, facing a considerable shortfall in government pledges. The Global Fund, currently representing more than half of the global malaria budget, is critical to sustaining the gains. Malaria Consortium calls for all the commitments by donor governments to be confirmed.
There are many countries for whom continued progress in malaria control is dependent upon Global Fund support and it is imperative that funding lapses do not result in lost gains. Myanmar, for example, was depending on the Global Fund to help manage the growth of resistance to anti-malaria drugs but did not receive funding when Round 11 awards for financial support were cancelled. The fact that this funding has been stopped has implications beyond Myanmar given the nature of resistance growth among migrant populations. Malaria Consortium is closely involved in providing support to National Malaria Programmes around the Greater Mekong Delta region and the need for continuous surveillance of malaria cases is critical.
Despite these concerns, Malaria Consortium continues to engage with partners and policy makers in order to affect positive change in health sector development and ensure continuous support.
For more information about our work on this World Malaria Day, please visit our World Malaria Day page.
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