London 2 February 2010: African leaders met in Ethiopia yesterday to convene the first working session of the African leaders malaria Alliance (ALMA) to confront the ongoing challenges of meeting the United Nations target of ensuring universal access to malaria control measures across the continent by the end of this year.
Every year, malaria continues to accounts for over 25% of all deaths of children under the age of five across Africa, affects over 50 million pregnant women and is responsible for 10% of all maternal deaths.
According to ALMA, as much as 40% of health-care spending in endemic countries goes on malaria, costing the continent around $12 billion a year.
However, it is not all bad news. The 26-nation ALMA coalition said that in the past 12 months alone at least 90 million long-lasting, insecticidal mosquito nets were delivered in Africa, and overall 200 million such nets have been distributed to 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, where virtually all malaria deaths occur.
The World Health Organization 2009 World Malaria Report states that more than one-third of malaria-affected countries have documented reductions in cases of more than 50%.
“In the remaining year until the Secretary-General’s deadline to ensure that all people at risk are protected from the disease, African leadership has the greatest authority to ensure the realization of these goals,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers.
ALMA was launched during the General Assembly in September 2009 to provide a forum to ensure efficient procurement, distribution and utilisation of malaria control interventions; facilitate the sharing of effective malaria control practices; and ensure malaria remains high on the global political agenda.
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