Malaria Foundation International

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PRESS RELEASE:
17 MAY 1998

G8 LEADERS PLEDGE SUPPORT FOR
INTERNATIONAL MALARIA INITIATIVE



Plans for a major new international campaign to curb tile alarming spread of malaria - the Roll Back Malaria initiative announced by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General Elect of WHO at The World Health Assembly on May 13 1998 - received an important boost today when it won a promise of support from leaders of the G8 countries. This initiative will allow effective co-ordination of the research and implementation initiatives recently taken by a variety of agencies faced with the explosive situation in malaria.

Malaria kills more than one million people every year, mostly children, causing disease in some 500 million others and is endemic in approximately 100 countries. We are standing at an historic watershed in our effort to combat this disease, with resistance emerging and spreading faster than new drugs are being developed. We must act now as here are no fail-safe treatments. We will not easily get another chance.

The Roll Back Malaria initiative takes up the challenge, setting itself the ambitious target of halving malaria deaths by 2010 and again by 2015, through the extensive, co-ordinated, and improved use of existing tools and the development of new ones.

Speaking as chairman of the G8 conference, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his pride in the foresight shown in the development of the Roll Back Malaria initiative. He said malaria was clearly a major escalating problem which requires the co-ordinated attention of the developed world in genuine partnership with the malaria endemic countries. Mr. Blair praised the campaign for its strength, inspired by the unique partnership of governments, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the private sector, and its focus on simple measures which, if met, will transform poverty induced health issues for the developing world.

Commenting on the decision, the founder and President of the Malaria Foundation DR Mary Galinski said "The entire malaria community has stressed the need for a co-ordinated international campaign to help control malaria for several years and it is now clear that the decision makers are taking up the challenge. The pledge of support from the G8 nations is enormously encouraging. We only hope it will translate into a real increase in the financial commitment for malaria not only from all G8 countries, but from many more countries around the world, especially the affected countries. If not the world faces a looming crisis.

Furthermore we welcome the renewed interest of the pharmaceutical industry worldwide in malaria and we believe that this public initiative will provide a strong context for the private sector to re-establish their commitment to research and development for malaria control tools. The partnership between the public sector, the WHO, the World Bank and other interested parties will enable us to make a very serious impact on this killing and debilitating disease. We know this will be a formidable and ambitious task but we look forward in anticipation to working together to find creative solutions."

For further information, please contact:
Mary Galinski (Mary.Galinski@malaria.org)
President, Malaria Foundation International

 

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