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Anti-Malaria Drive Gets A 750-Million-Dollar Boost

Original Article = Panafrican News Agency

DATELINE: April 26, 2000

BYLINE: by Paul Ejime

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Some 750 million US dollars has been pledged to African countries to help fight malaria, following Tuesday's first regional summit on the disease in Abuja.

The World Bank, co-initiator of the Roll Back Malaria meeting, blazed the trail with a pledge of 500 million dollars, while Canada pledged 10 million dollars.

Other donors, which announced increases in their previous commitment, were the UK Department of International Development, USAID, and the European Union.

The summit, attended by 39 countries, including 20 African leaders and senior officials of major UN agencies and NGOS, also called for one billion dollars to be made available yearly to roll back the mosquito-borne tropical disease, which kills some two million people world-wide, 90 percent of them in Africa.

In their Abuja Declaration, the leaders called on the creditor community to cancel the debt of poor and heavily indebted countries to enable them to fight poverty caused by malaria.

The 13-page declaration also stressed the need for an investment of additional resources to stimulate the development of malaria vaccines appropriate for Africa and provide similar incentives for anti-malaria technology.

A country plan of action attached to the declaration lays the framework for monitoring and management of the health system, provision of anti-malaria drugs and malaria control related materials.

It also envisages a detailed programme of disease prevention, surveillance, epidemic preparedness and response, as well as sustainable control and human resources development.

There is also provision for inter-disciplinary operational research.

According to an expert report to the summit, much of the 500 million annual malaria global attacks cost Africa up to 12 billion dollars a year, while the region lost some 1.3 percent annual growth to the debilitating disease.

The world's largest insecticide-treated bednet was unveiled in Abuja ahead of the Roll Back Malaria summit, which stemmed from the OAU's 1997 declaration on malaria.

Its goals include halving the high mortality rate in Africa by 2010, while 60 percent of sufferers, mainly children under five and women of childbearing age, are expected to be provided with prompt access to and the use of correct and affordable treatment within 24 hours.

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