Theresa Agba, a Nigerian Red Cross volunteers is chekcing the brand of the net installed to see if it matches with the ones distributed by the Red Cross a few weeks ago. Benoit Matsha-Carpentier / IFRC
By Mr Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Globally the Red Cross and Red Crescent is contributing to an incredible success story. It is a story that shows us what is possible when individuals and communities at local, national and international level work in partnership to scale up and sustain innovative operational strategies to tackle a disease that takes its heaviest toll on poor and underprivileged populations.
The return on investment of live-saving malaria interventions is remarkable. In the last decade in Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third; outside of Africa, 35 out of the 53 countries, affected by malaria, have reduced cases by 50% in the same time period. In countries where access to malaria control interventions has improved most significantly, overall child mortality rates have fallen by approximately 20%. Theses advances over recent years show that the fight against malaria can be won through increased investment in control of the disease at national and international levels.
Despite the enormous progress, there are worrying trends that threaten the successes of malaria control globally. Success is achievable, but we must not take recent advances against the disease for granted. The gains made are fragile. We must do more, do better and reach further.
It is vital that we continue to shrink the malaria map by ensuring the gains we have made are sustained and built upon. Success will be achieved through a combination of increased national and international political will, investment on the ground to ensure roll out and uptake of malaria interventions, and ongoing research and innovation to develop new tools to combat emerging threats such as parasite and insecticide resistance.
Just by scaling up efforts to prevent malaria, including universal coverage of mosquito nets, an estimated three million children’s lives will be saved by 2015. While this is an enormous achievement, globally, we still loose one child to malaria every minute of every day. We must do more collectively to prevent and control malaria.
Sustaining malaria control efforts is an investment in development. Continued investment in malaria control now will propel malaria-endemic countries along the path to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education.
Success in the fight against malaria contributes to building health systems and improving the capacity of ministries of health to scale up other programmes and sustain progress.
The power of partnership is one of the most important pieces in the fight against malaria. Malaria is the cause of massive human suffering and the international community must play a greater role in global partnerships, supporting and investing more in the fight against malaria. International efforts to scale-up the proven, cost-effective tools available to prevent and control malaria must be maintained. We cannot risk reversing today’s gains and loosing countless more lives to a preventable and treatable disease.
Together we will achieve the greatest international public health impact ever recorded in history.