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Statement by H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Chairman of the African Union, in Response to UN-SG Call to Action on Malaria

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, April 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today is a great day for the people of Africa. It is a day to remember and a day to celebrate. We celebrate because of the possibilities that the vision of universal coverage to end malaria deaths, announced today by the United Nations Secretary General His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, presents for Africa. We in Africa are confident that, if this initiative is implemented to the letter, millions of lives will be saved in Africa and the world over. We will also give substantial momentum for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90 per cent of the global malaria burden, which stands at one million deaths per year. In Tanzania, malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, claiming the lives of 80,000 people, particularly young children and pregnant women, per year.

Malaria costs African economies US$12 billion per year in direct costs, and vastly more in lost economic growth in the long run, which may well be more than 1 percentage point per year sacrificed to the disease. The cumulative consequences for Africa's poverty are therefore profound, yet correctable. We in the African continent are aware of the gravity of the malaria burden and the need to deal with it. African leaders have been proactive at regional and continental levels to deal with this disease. In April 2000, African Heads of State and Government met in Abuja, Nigeria, and made a commitment to intensify the fight against malaria.

Today, 8 years later, despite progress that has been made, malaria continues to rage and remains the number one killer disease in the continent.

But this disease can be eliminated through the simultaneous application of four proven interventions: mass-coverage of insecticide treated bed nets, outdoor and indoor residual spraying, preventative treatment for pregnant women, and universal availability of treatment for all those who become infected. But the poor in Africa cannot afford any of the interventions and their governments, too, cannot do much. We need to be assisted, and this has always been our cry for a very long time. Our goal, with our partners, needs to be universal access to the package of the four interventions, with mass, free availability for the poor, who otherwise cannot afford the interventions and who suffer and die by the millions when the support is not available.

The announcement today by the UN Secretary General is the answer that we in Africa have been waiting for. On behalf of the people, leaders and governments of Africa, I welcome and support Secretary General's call for action. Africa seeks -- and actually deserves -- universal coverage of malaria control interventions, with access for all, including the poor who suffer the most.

We undertake to play our part in implementing and sustaining this noble effort. To help us do so, we continue to appeal for adequate and timely support of the international community.

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

President of the United Republic of Tanzania and

Chairman of the African Union

April 25, 2008

Press Contact:

Martin Edlund


SOURCE United Republic of Tanzania
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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