A mother and her newborn child lay under a mosquito bed net. Most malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite at night.
African leaders are at the forefront of a landmark initiative to protect all those at risk from malaria with life-saving interventions by the end of 2010, the United Nations Envoy for efforts to defeat the deadly disease says.
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is tasked with ensuring that more than 240 million insecticide-treated bed nets are distributed throughout malaria-endemic countries on the continent by the end of 2010, with the aim of ending unnecessary deaths from the disease by 2015.
Malaria kills almost one million Africans every year and affects over 200 million more, mostly pregnant women and children under five years of age, resulting in at least $12 billion of costs every year through lost development and opportunity, according to a news release issued by ALMA.
Launched at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday, the alliance is a high-level forum set up to oversee the efficient procurement, distribution, and utilization of malaria control measures.
“Malaria is borderless,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers at yesterday’s launch. “Therefore, we need an organization that transcends borders. This is ALMA.”
He said that ALMA will work to “end deaths, enhance health infrastructure and grow economies. We know our investment in malaria can save one million lives each year.”Last year the international community provided $3 billion to contribute to the overall campaign against malaria.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to the launch that the world “holds no hope of fulfilling this promise without the mutual engagement of Africa’s heads of State and government.”
The launch of ALMA is a critical step in the fight against malaria in Africa, added World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan, in a statement echoing Mr. Ban.“The full engagement and political commitment of African leaders is essential not only to reach the 2010 target of universal coverage with malaria control interventions, but also to sustain these gains and ultimately achieve the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” said Ms. Chan, referring to the internationally agreed targets – which include halting and reversing the incidence of malaria by 2015.