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‘Invest in the future; Defeat malaria’

The African Union (AU) joins the international community in celebrating the World Malaria Day under the theme Invest in the future. Defeat malaria.

Sunday View with www.africa.org

The theme continues to reflect the renewed call for the urgent need for more resources continentally and globally to eliminate malaria.

Substantial progress has been made in Africa but efforts need to be sustained.

The commemorations come at a time when progress in responding to malaria in Africa includes a 49% decline in malaria mortality rates and a reduction of malaria mortality rates among children by 54% since 2000.

However, Africa continues to account for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide. Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.

Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce malaria incidence by 31% in Africa.

The intensification of efforts already undertaken to prevent malaria, including universal coverage of bed nets, is estimated to save the lives of up to three million African children by 2015; hence the importance of continuing efforts and mobilising more resources for the fight against malaria.

“As we project into the future of malaria elimination, we must drive the big push to end malaria through innovative domestic financing models to improve access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria as well as research” said Dr.

Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs.

“We cannot and should not continue to rely on external funding for health. The experience of the last few years has shown that external funding is neither predictable nor assured,” he added.

Why do we need a big push in our fight against malaria? The big push is needed for three reasons;

recent economic crises have left an estimated annual funding gap of US$3 billion, with an immediate gap of US$3,6 billion through 2015 in Africa alone that threatens to unravel the gains made against this preventable and treatable disease

malaria causes out-of-pocket expenditure for households and loss of productivity to the economy resulting in massive losses to economic growth, with an estimated cost of US$12 billion each year in lost productivity in Africa alone

new data suggests that for every US$1 invested in malaria in Africa, an estimated US$40 GDP is generated in return.

As much of the continent expands at unprecedented rates, enormous leadership and political will continue to play an increasingly critical role through both international and domestic financing as the continent works to overcome pressing global health challenges, like malaria, and into a more prosperous and sustainable future.

The African Union, in its support and advocacy agenda against malaria has dedicated various initiatives and programmes including: the Aids Watch Africa and the Africa Malaria Elimination Campaign among others.

It has also joined its efforts with the partners and other stakeholders during the 5th inter-Agency Meeting on Coordination and Harmonisation of HIV and Aids, TB and Malaria Strategies aimed at boosting the response to the fight against these diseases.

The African Union Commission Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, 2013 Abuja Declaration, the AU Roadmap and the African Union Common Position on the Post 2015 Development Agenda all provide a solid framework to ensure ownership including increase domestic financing while still providing a framework for the continued importance of development cooperation.

For more information, visit http://www.africa-union.org, www.aidswatchafrica.org

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