The impressive progress made in tackling malaria across the world is in danger without sustained commitment from the international community, Lynne Featherstone said in Kinshasa today to mark World Malaria Day.
The remarks came as the International Development minister, who is visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this week, announced a major new UK programme that will help to protect approximately 6 million people from the disease in the country.
Global efforts to tackle the disease contributed to a 33% fall in malaria mortality rates in Africa between 2000 and 2010. However donor funding for anti-malaria programmes across the world is now levelling off and is in danger of falling over the coming years.
Lynne Featherstone said:
The progress made in tackling malaria across the developing world over the past decade has not only saved over a million lives, it has helped reduce the economic damage that malaria can wreak on countries trying to grow their way out of poverty.
However this progress is in danger. The international community needs to sustain its support to make sure the gains made over the past 10 years do not go to waste. This must be matched by increased commitments from the governments of high-burden countries.
The UK will not stand on the sidelines as millions suffer from this preventable and treatable disease. That’s why we are stepping-up our support for vital bed net and treatment programmes in the DRC, one of the worst-affected countries in the world.
The £39.5 million programme announced today will distribute up to 4 million bed nets in challenging conditions, and will also seek to reduce the risk of malaria drug resistance whilst improving the capacity of the private sector to deliver life-saving therapies in the DRC.
Malaria is responsible for a third of all deaths in the DRC, which has the second highest malaria burden in the world. It is estimated that in DRC, children under 5 experience an average of between 6 to 10 episodes of malaria per year.
In the areas where the new UK programme will be implemented, it is expected to:
protect approximately 6 million people from malaria
reduce the number of cases of uncomplicated, non-severe malaria by half
save the lives of an estimated 4,500 children under 5 every year
The new programme will also help the DRC government to deliver their national malaria control programme, by improving the availability and use of information that can support good decision-making. This will help to ensure the best use of funds available to avoid a long-term resurgence in malaria.
James Whiting, Executive Director of Malaria No More UK said:
We welcome the minister’s announcement and the UK’s growing support for countries fighting malaria. UK leadership is critical to the global campaign to end deaths from this preventable, curable disease. We have seen tremendous progress but with a child still dying every minute we cannot afford to let up now.