Scaling up efforts to prevent and control malaria in developing countries

Published: 16 October 2012

Agenda Item 14. - “2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa”
Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 16 October 2012

Mr President,

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supports the adoption last month of resolution A/RES/66/289 entitled Consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2015. We further welcome the inclusion of malaria among the United Nations Secretary General’s priorities for his second mandate.

Mr President,

We have collectively made significant progress in the fight against malaria over the past 10 years, as highlighted in the 2011 World Malaria Report. We know that this success is the result of a significant scaling-up of malaria prevention and control measures, including the widespread ownership and increased use of bed nets, better diagnostics and a wider availability of effective medicines to treat malaria.

Despite these significant results, gains remain inequitable. While some countries are moving towards the elimination of malaria, many others continue to suffer unacceptably high burdens of the disease and require a rapid increase in prevention and control efforts.

Mr President,

We must not take recent hard-won advances in the global fight against malaria for granted. The gains made are fragile. Collectively, we must do more, do better and reach further. The IFRC calls for greater recognition, support and investment in community-based solutions, including a focus on the most vulnerable, marginalized and hard-to-reach communities, in order to ensure equitable access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Malaria is first managed in homes and communities and it will be at this level that we will continue to see the biggest returns on investment by empowering individuals to take informed action against the disease.

Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies and their community-based volunteers have played a crucial role in our global success to date. These volunteers, who are intimately aware of local barriers to health interventions, are working in communities to expand the reach of prevention and control measures. Volunteers go door-to-door to ensure installation and proper care of nets, provide information on how to effectively prevent the disease, identify where to access diagnosis and treatment, and promote rapid treatment-seeking behaviour for pregnant women and children under five to stop preventable malaria deaths.

New technology is also playing a role. For example, the Haitian Red Cross, in addition to targeted distributions in at-risk communities, is using mobile technology to put life-saving information directly into the hands of people through a nationwide malaria prevention campaign that has included over 3.5 million SMS messages sent.

Mr President,

The IFRC believes that malaria control, and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will depend on sustained and increased funding support, as well as political commitment. For instance, 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. Sustaining malaria control efforts is an investment in development. Early and continued investment in malaria control will greatly assist malaria-endemic countries along the path to achieving the MDGs, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education. Furthermore, malaria funding can be used a gateway for integration of other key health services to address MDGs 4 and 5, thus offering a synergistic solution to resource constraints globally and within countries.

Mr President,

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 supporting global partnerships to fight malaria. International efforts to scale-up the proven, cost-effective tools available to prevent and control malaria must be maintained. However, in order to avoid the pitfalls experienced in the past efforts to eradicate malaria, including growing resistance to insecticide and drugs, we must continue to invest in research and development initiatives to stay ahead of the mosquito and the parasite. We cannot risk reversing today’s gains and losing countless more lives to a preventable and treatable disease.

I thank you.