Message of the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, on the occasion of World Malaria Day 2013

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INVEST IN THE FUTURE: DEFEAT MALARIA!

Every year, the World celebrates Malaria Day on 25th of April. From now until 2015, the Global community has agreed on the theme: INVEST IN THE FUTURE: DEFEAT MALARIA. This theme reflects the need for firm accelerated action to defeat malaria as we move towards the deadline set for the Millennium Development Goals.

Over the past decade, countries in the African Region have made commendable progress in the prevention and control of malaria. The World Malaria Report 2012 indicates a 33% decrease in malaria deaths in Africa. During the same period, an estimated 1.1 million malaria deaths were averted. It is also encouraging to note that one fifth of the countries in the region are on track to meet the 2015 target of 75% reduction in malaria burden.

Furthermore, we welcome ongoing efforts of the 8 Southern African countries (‘Elimination 8’) that are jointly coordinating their activities to eliminate malaria as well as other cross-border and Island initiatives to expand malaria free areas.

Although these ongoing efforts have contributed towards improvement in child survival, improved maternal health and the welfare of individuals, families, communities and affected countries, we must not forget that 90% of the 660 000 malaria deaths reported last year occurred in Africa, and that malaria still kills one African child every minute.

Increased domestic and external funding is needed to ensure that adequate quantities of commodities, including enough Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets, Insecticides, Rapid tests, microscopes, reagents and antimalarial drugs are accessible and used rationally.

Integrated delivery of anti-malarial actions with maternal and child health, immunization, hygiene, sanitation and improved housing programmes must be expanded in order to defeat malaria. Strong political commitment, strengthened regional cooperation and multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration are critical.

Public private partnerships and initiatives based on corporate social responsibility can complement investment by governments. In order to mitigate threat to future success, regular monitoring of insecticides and antimalarial drug resistance as well as continuous research to develop new cost-effective prevention and treatment tools will be critical.

As we commemorate World Malaria Day, I call upon everyone to join the fight to defeat malaria. Politicians, parliamentarians, governments, private sector officials, civil society, faith-based organizations and the mass media should support community-based anti-malaria efforts.

Together, we can defeat malaria! Thank you.