Roll Back Malaria report confirms aid for malaria is working but predictable long-term funding is essential to achieve Millennium Development Goals

18 Mar 2010
Roll Back Malaria
Paris/London, 18 March 2010: A new report from the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership confirms that current investment in malaria control is saving lives and providing far-reaching benefits for countries. But it warns that without sustained and predictable funding, the significant contribution of malaria control toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be reversed.

Malaria Funding and Resource Utilization is the first in a new series of reports launched by the RBM Partnership to benchmark progress towards RBM targets and the Millennium Development Goals. The report, authored by WHO, UNICEF and PATH and published today, shows that external funding for malaria control by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, World Bank, and the US Presidents Malaria Initiative (PMI) totalled almost US$4.6 billion between 2003 and 2009. Since 2003 the Global Fund has provided two-thirds of all malaria control financing. By the end of 2009, the Global Fund had approved more than 200 proposals for funding from 81 countries and 6 multi-country grants, supporting programs that distributed 104 million mosquito nets and treated 108 million cases of malaria in accordance with national treatment guidelines.

Most of this funding is directed at Africa, where 90 percent of global malaria deaths occur. Considerable improvements in child and maternal health have been recorded in a third of malaria-endemic African countries where malaria interventions have reached high coverage, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia. The report reveals that between 2000 and 2009, an estimated 384,000 children's lives were saved in 12 countries through widespread distribution of mosquito nets and other malaria prevention tools. A further 217,000 children's lives could be saved if the same interventions were to reach the target of 80 percent of all populations by the end of this year.

However, total annual global funding, approximately US$2 billion at the end of 2009, including national budgets and other bilateral funding, falls short of the estimated US$6 billion required annually by the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) to ensure universal coverage of malaria control interventions.

"Investment in malaria control is having a profound effect on health and the MDGs," says Prof Awa Marie Coll-Seck, RBM Executive Director, "especially on the health of women and children in Africa. This investment must continue. Lives saved today must not be replaced by lives lost tomorrow. We have come too far—there is so much momentum. We must not allow the clock to be turned back."

Although the incidence of malaria has been dropping over recent years, the disease still claims approximately 860,000 lives each year, mainly women and children in Africa. It affects children's school attendance, causes lost productivity, and drains domestic resources, capturing already poor communities in a vicious cycle of poverty.

"Over the last decade, malaria prevention and control have been among the best investments in global health," said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "In no other area has there been such a direct and rapid correlation between resources committed and impact on disease as with investments made in recent years to fight malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. This progress is fragile, however, and 2010 is a key year for donors to decide if the health-related MDGs can be met," he said.

In October 2010 the Global Fund will hold its third replenishment session, where governments will make financial pledges for 2011-2013, a crucial period that will determine whether the health-related MDGs can be reached by 2015.

At an initial Replenishment review meeting to be held in the Hague on 24 March, the Global Fund is presenting three resource scenarios for consideration to donors, each with an indication of the results that could be expected in terms of achievements on the ground at the end of the replenishment period. The different scenarios range from US$ 13 to 20 billion for the three-year period.