18 April 2018

Africa: Now or Never - Quashing Malaria Before It Roars Back

Photo: Geoff Ward for Malaria No More UK
A Ghanaian volunteer who distributed malaria nets, with his daughter.

A powerful international coalition of civil society organisations launches a new campaign in London today to fight back against the threatened resurgence of malaria.

The organisations will hold "Malaria Summit London 2018" ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to announce investments totalling more than U.S. $3.8 billion in the fight to eliminate the scourge.

They will urge the the leaders of the 52 nations of the Commonwealth - which although comprising a third of the world's people, account for half of malaria cases and deaths - to cut in half the number of cases in five years.

The organisations say in a news release that in 2016, for the first time in a decade, "the number of malaria cases in the world was on the rise and in some areas there is a resurgence."

The groups organising the summit are Malaria No More UK, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the global campaign, Malaria Must Die.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation which bears his and his wife's name, and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, are scheduled to speak at the summit.

"History has shown that with malaria there is no standing still," Gates said in a statement ahead of the summit. "We move forward or we risk resurgence."

Malaria is "preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable," he added, "but progress against malaria is not inevitable."

One of the reasons malaria threatens to return and spread is that the mosquito and the malaria parasite are developing resistance to the interventions used to fight them.

"This has been compounded by a plateau in global funding for malaria since 2010, climate change, which intensifies incidences of malaria, and acute malaria outbreaks found in areas of crisis, war and conflict," say the summit organisers.

They add that at the summit, government leaders, business and philanthropic and international organisations will together pledge support "to drive innovation, cutting-edge research, better data and increased access to life-saving malaria interventions."

"Collective action would prevent 350 million cases of malaria and save 650,000 lives across the Commonwealth."

"Thousands of scientists from more than 70 countries... will gather to share the latest research in the fight against malaria and discuss best practices moving forward to end the epidemic for good," said the organisers of the London summit, ahead of that gathering.

The London summit will also be co-hosted by the governments of Rwanda, Swaziland and Britain.

For full details of what can be expected at the summit, see the organisers' press release.

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