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World Bank Group Report on Malaria in Africa Highlights Progress Towards Goal of Significantly Reducing Malaria Deaths
Date:10/11/2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new World Bank report says in just two years nearly 20 million long lasting insecticidal nets and more than 15 million doses of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) are on course to be distributed under the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control in Africa.

The Progress Report on the Booster Program for Malaria Control, says about 240 million people --- including more than 42 million children under age five and nearly 10 million pregnant women --- are in areas covered by the Booster Program projects.

Every year, malaria infects more than 500 million people around the world. More than one million die each year -- most of them children under five, living in Africa.

Launched in September 2005, the Booster Program seeks to help cut malaria deaths in Africa by at least 75 percent by 2015, through the distribution of medicines, nets, and strengthening health systems to sustain the gains. For example, just last week 1.4 million long-lasting nets left the Port of Cotonou for the 77 communes of Benin, in what will be Benin's largest net distribution in history.

"We're seeing that success is possible," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. "A number of sub-Saharan African countries are beginning to significantly reduce deaths and illness from malaria. With an additional US$3 billion per year over the next three to five years, elimination of one of Africa leading killers of children may soon be within reach."

Just two years after the launch of the Booster Program and in response to strong country demand, the World Bank Group has now increased its financing for malaria control in Africa more than nine-fold.

"The World Bank brings to the fight a long-term commitment and pledge to leverage its unique relationships with key ministries in participating countries as well as partners," said Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank's Africa Region. "The progress over the past two years provides reason for optimism with 19 major Malaria Booster Projects across 18 countries in Africa and a total commitment of almost $500 million. However, as we enter the second phase of the Booster program, we must stay the course. Together with our private and public sector partners, we must continue to support countries in their quest for an Africa free of malaria".

The second phase of the Booster Program is set to run from July 2008 to 2015. The report says while gains have been made, much work remains. It says additional funding must be found, supply-chain and distribution constraints must be overcome, and more attention given to monitoring and evaluation to ensure results.

"Now is the time for Africa and its development partners to raise our collective ambition higher than ever before," said Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, a coalition of countries and partners fighting malaria. "Over the next three to five years, we must ask ourselves whether or not we can free Africa from malaria's grip. Achieving rapid but sustained malaria control will take both a tremendous ability to lead and willingness by many different partners to collaborate and coordinate their efforts."

It is expected that as much as US$10 billion will be required over the next 3-5 years from all partners in support of a large-scale push across the African continent.

Background:

The World Bank is committing $500 million in grants and interest-free loans by the end of the first phase of the program in June 2008, while preparing a second phase to last from 2008-2015. Given the strong demand by countries, an increased financing target for the second phase is being defined over the next 4-5 months. Malaria business plans are being developed by the countries, in consultation with the Bank and other partners.

For a copy of the report or for more information about the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control in Africa, visit http://www.worldbank.org/afr/malaria.

CONTACT: In Washington: Beldina Auma

202-458 -7307

Baumaowuor@worldbank.org

Liz Cottle

202-350-6645

liz@boosterprogram.org


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SOURCE The World Bank
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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