World leaders on Thursday announced an ambitious plan to end all malaria deaths by 2015, backed by unprecedented funding of nearly $3b from donors, including the World Bank and the Gates Foundation.
A key part of the strategy is the introduction of a vaccine against the deadly disease, which is now just entering the final stage of trials. Although the vaccine is expected to be only partially effective, it will still save thousands of lives.
A donation of $168.7m from Bill Gates ensures that scientists will go on to develop further vaccines in the hope, eventually, of being able to give total immunity to all babies in affected countries soon after birth.
Thursday’s announcements at a U.N. special summit on the millennium development goals in New York, attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with the presidents of Rwanda and Tanzania, Gordon Brown and other leaders, sets the bar in the fight against malaria higher than ever before.
With tools that are now proven to work, such as long-lasting, insecticide-impregnated bed nets, indoor spraying against malarial mosquitoes, and new drugs as well as the expected vaccine, it is now hoped not only to bring malaria under control by 2010 but to eliminate deaths from the disease.
Mr. Brown called the strategy launch “a real and vital turning point” which “brings together a new coalition of forces — government, the private sector and NGOs — to ensure we all rise to the challenge of eradicating malaria deaths by 2015.” One million people die every year of malaria, most of them in Africa. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008
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