The Asia-Pacific region’s efforts to eradicate malaria have gained additional support: Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr has pledged more than $100 million Australian dollars ($103.8 million) for the cause.
Carr announced the four-year funding at a malaria conference in Sydney, where he reiterated the region’s commitment to “reduce deaths and cases of malaria by 75 percent, and to contribute to the goal of near zero deaths globally.”
The pledged amount will support country and regional programs, including AU$14.5 million to control and eliminate drug-resistant malaria in the Mekong region countries and at least AU$20 million for programs in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. An additional AU$10 million is earmarked for malaria research.
The Australian minister underscored the need to accelerate efforts and cooperate in order to provide 276 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, 2 billion rapid diagnostic tests and 47 million quality malaria treatments, and prevent 70,000 deaths and 50 million malaria cases by 2015.
“We will establish a working group with regional leaders to drive joint action and advance malaria discussions following the upcoming East Asia Summit,” Carr added.
Also at the conference is Alan Magill, Gates Foundation’s malaria program director, who stressed Asia-Pacific’s “global responsibility” to address drug-resistant malaria in a “very aggressive fashion.” The region is a major manufacturer of the world’s anti-malaria tools such as insecticide-treated bed nets.
Of the 30 million malaria cases recorded in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010, 42,000 resulted in deaths, according to the World Health Organization. At the conference, the U.N. health agency launched a report highlighting progress and challenges in fighting malaria in areas outside of Africa. The report also outlined six ways to reduce the burden of malaria.
Increase funding for malaria control and treatment efforts.
Scale up technical assistance and knowledge transfers.
Ensure people in at-risk populations gain access to preventive interventions.
Upgrade diagnostic testing, treatments and surveillance.
Implement better strategies to address drug and insecticide resistance.
Strengthen regional cooperation.
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