December 13th, 2006 08:19 EST
UN-backed fund sharply increases distribution of treated bed nets to fight malaria
The United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is drastically increasing the number of insecticide-treated bed nets for families at risk from malaria, a key tool to preventing the mosquito-borne disease which kills two people and infects 1,000 others every minute, mostly in developing countries.
“With Global Fund finance, the world has begun a massive counterattack against malaria at a scale we haven’t seen for decades,” Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem said. “In some areas, malaria is collapsing thanks to these efforts. But we have not yet reached the level and pace of progress that is needed.”
Fund-financed programmes have delivered more than 18 million treated nets since the start of the year, an increase of 135 per cent over 2005, and these are expected to save the lives of 371,000 children over the next three years. By 2003, only 13 million treated had ever been distributed in Africa.
The Fund is also supporting a range of other essential steps fight malaria. In 2004, along with partners such as the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, it led a global shift from outdated malaria medications to the highly effective artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).
Since then, it has committed finance to purchase more than 250 million treatments of the more expensive ACTs, a dramatic increase compared to the estimated 10,000 people receiving the treatment in Africa before 2002. Fund-financed programmes have also protected millions of people by spraying homes with effective insecticides.
The Global Fund, a unique global public/private partnership, accounts for two thirds of international funding of anti-malaria efforts, according to the most recent World Malaria Report. It currently supports anti-malaria efforts in 84 countries.
Every year, there are 300 to 500 million cases of malaria and more than 1 million people die, most of them young children in Africa.
Since its launch five years ago, the Fund has become the primary financier of the world’s fight against malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), supporting local efforts with $6.8 billion committed across 136 countries.