For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), released the following statement on the occasion of World Malaria Day.
“Five years ago, malaria killed nearly one million people each year—most of them children. In Africa alone, the burden of the disease cost the continent $12 billion a year in lost productivity.
Today we help save nearly 150,000 lives every year. In seven of the original 15 Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) countries, we’ve seen reductions in all-cause child mortality by as much as 36 percent. Not only are we preventing children from dying from malaria, those efforts are freeing up hospital beds and scarce medical resources that can be used to prevent children from dying from other causes. Once more data becomes available, we expect to see similar results in the remaining Initiative countries.
Across the next five years, I believe we can push the Initiative’s success even further. Through President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, I believe we can save an additional 500,000 more lives a year, most of them young children. To do this, we need to scale up the distribution of insecticide-treated bednets, boost indoor residual spraying, use more effective antimalarial drug therapies and target vulnerable populations for treatment.
Then we must invent new solutions. We need to give community health workers a point-of-care diagnostic that can quickly determine whether a fever is a result of malarial infection. We need to develop new classes of insecticide that can deter mosquitoes without harming human health or local environments. And we need to explore ways to lower the cost of artemisinin—a plant with potent antimalarial properties—either by breeding higher-yield varieties plant or making it synthetically.
Finally, we need to seek the ultimate answer to malaria: a cheap, effective vaccine. Through the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, USAID will support the development and testing of promising candidates.
On this World Malaria Day, I’m hopeful that we can reaffirm our commitment to removing malaria as a public health problem in Africa and eventually closing the chapter on this deadly disease.”
For more information about USAID's programs, please visit: www.usaid.gov.
Last updated: December 18, 2013