International Initiative to Wipeout Malaria

Author:  Patel Akshar
Date:  October 2008

A Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) announced by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) on September 25th has many hoping for the "conquering" of malaria, a disease which kills close to 1 million people a year. At a fundraising event at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, organizations such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, amongst others, pledged more than $3 billion of a required $6.2 billion. In fact, the GMAP has received large contributions from more than 250 people representing 60 institutions in the past year.

This new plan was developed after experts concluded that existing programs were not sufficient in stopping the incidence of malaria, especially in the hardest-hit areas. The new plan calls for a commitment of $750 to $900 million per year in research funds. "The plan gives a strong sense of where the community wants to go," agrees Carlos "Kent" Campbell of the Seattle-based health nonprofit PATH.

One of the short-term goals of the plan is to cut the number of malaria deaths in half by 2010, and to reduce the number to near-zero by 2015. GMAP hopes to accomplish this goal by utilizing proven tools, including, insecticide-treated bed nets, artemisinin-based combination therapies, and spraying insecticides indoors. Regina Rabinovich, the head of infectious diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called these goals "ambitious but achievable."

In total, the plan is expected to save 4.2 million lives by 2015. However, critics of the plan urged caution on having lofty hopes, as its goals can only be achieved if the donors follow through on their pledges and if the affected-countries participate fully in the program.

Written by: Akshar Patel

Edited by: Matthew Getz

Published by: Hoi See Tsao