New York, 22 April: “To realise the real impact of investments in our fight against malaria, we must not only maintain current funding levels but actually increase them. If we don’t, then the achievements we have made would be short lived,” said Sunil Mehra, Executive Director of Malaria Consortium.
Mr Mehra was co-hosting a reception held at the United Nations last night with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to mark World Malaria Day on April 25 and highlight the state of global malaria. The event featured leaders in the world of public policy and malaria control including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium and Prof. Awa Coll-Seck, Executive Director of RBM among others.
Malaria is a preventable and curable disease. Yet nearly 850,000 people each year, mainly pregnant women and children, die from it, and half of the world’s population, some 3.3 billion people in 109 countries, are at risk of contracting the disease. It’s also widely recognised that malaria control has a positive impact on all of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, with its biggest effect on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating other diseases.
Fuelled by milestones set by the MDGs in 2000, there has been strong international funding and support for malaria prevention programs throughout 2009. A recent report authored by the World Health Organisation confirmed that this effort has yielded significant successes. An estimated 384,000 children’s lives were saved in 12 countries through widespread distribution of mosquito nets, regarded as the best front line defence against malaria, and other malaria prevention tools since 2000. But RBM warned that we need to triple the $2 billion allocated for malaria at the end of 2009, to about $6 billion required annually to ensure universal coverage of malaria control interventions.
History shows that malaria control efforts must be sustained to be effective. Sri Lanka is an example of a country where malaria roared back after nearly being eliminated in 1963. But those eradication efforts were not sustained and by 1990 there were a quarter of a million cases. Fortunately malaria control was stepped up again and levels have dropped once more to just 673 reported cases in 2008.
“This is just one of many examples where diminished intensity in malaria control efforts can lead to disastrous results in terms of human suffering and the loss of lives,” said Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of the Group, Vestergaard Frandsen, which is the leading producer of mosquito nets. “We’ve made such important progress toward controlling the spread of malaria these past few years. We can’t afford to let funding backslide and threaten this progress,” Mr. Vestergaard Frandsen added.
Some 250 guests attended the reception, which included a special viewing of the highly successful photographic exhibition Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears by award-winning photographer Adam Nadel. The exhibition showcases the complex relationships between malaria, poverty and the need for international support for combating the disease on a grand scale. The exhibition will be on display, free to the public, at the United Nations Main Gallery (entered through the Visitors Lobby, First Avenue at 46th Street) through April 26.
The exhibition was produced and conceived by Malaria Consortium and photographer Adam Nadel. It was made possible with the generous support of Vestergaard Frandsen, a European-based company specialising in complex emergency response and disease-control products, including the PermaNet® long-lasting insecticidal net and net curtains to prevent vector-borne diseases like malaria. It was produced under the umbrella of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership which is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria.
To view pictures from the exhibition, please visit www.malaria-bloodsweatandtears.com.
For more information, please contact Diana Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Adam Stoltman
Dignitaries at the United Nations at a reception for the photography exhibition "Malaria: Blood, Sweat and Tears," by photojournalist Adam Nadel at the United Nations. From left to right: Kiyo Akasaka, Under-secretary General, Department of Public Affairs for the United Nations, Ann Veneman, Executive Director UNICEF, Professor Awa Marie Coll Seck, Executive Director, Roll Back Malaria Partnership, United Nations Secretary General Bank Ki-moon, Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, Special Representative of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, photographer Adam Nadel, Sunil Mehra, Executive Director Malaria Consortium, Mikkel Vestergaard, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen and Board Member or Roll Back Malaria Partnership representing the private sector, and Ray Chambers, United Nations Malaria Envoy.