Report on Malaria: Progress is Being Made

April 21, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Strategically-made investments can be a crucial factor in lifting developing countries out of poverty and in protecting millions from diseases. Evidence of this has come in the form of a new joint report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership. The report finds that significant investments in malaria control has helped African countries make serious gains inroads in stamping out the disease across the continent. “Investment in malaria control is saving lives and reaping far-reaching benefits for countries, ” said Dr Coll Seck, RBM Partnership executive director.

“The World Malaria Day 2010: Africa Update” says that a global production of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) has increased to 150 million, a whopping five-fold jump. The growth comes from a ten-fold hike in global malaria funding from foreign sources to roughly two billion dollars by the end of 2009, compared with 2004 numbers. The study said that external aid in malaria funding “still falls short of the estimated six billion dollars needed in 2010 alone for global implementation of malaria interventions.” The vast majority of malaria deaths occur in Africa, south of the Sahara, and the disease has been estimated to cost the continent more than $12 billion every year in lost gross domestic product (GDP), even though it could be controlled for a fraction of that sum.

A common knock against foreign assistance is that it simply doesn’t work—that all the money goes to the pockets of dictators or autocrats or warlords or worse.  The success seen with malaria control can be measured in real lives, showing that foreign assistance can be a success.  The report’s release should provide impetus to Members of Congress who are now debating the International Affairs Budget.  This important funding is essential to battling malaria and other diseases across the globe—it saves lives, protects our national security, and strengthens our economy.