Washington, DC - An international coalition of 50 organizations called on Congress Monday to increase FY2007 funding for US efforts to control malaria, the biggest killer of Africa children. If allowed to pass, the current Continuing Resolution to level funding for AIDS, TB and malaria programs at FY2006 levels would short required funding for FY2007 by $134 million and cripple the promising new President's Malaria Initiative (PMI).
"Despite malaria's awful toll, increased funding and attention is bringing us closer to rolling back the disease in Africa than ever before," said Richard Tren, Director of Africa Fighting Malaria. "US malaria control policy reform has ensured taxpayer's money is spent transparently and effectively through the PMI, and millions of lived are being saved. This is a critical period for building on initial successes and expanding the PMI, which holds the potential to save millions more lives."
In FY2006, the US spent $100 million in total on bilateral malaria control, $30 million of which was channeled by the PMI into Angola, Tanzania and Uganda. For FY2007, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a total of $234 million for all bilateral malaria control efforts, $135 million of which is required by the PMI to continue scaling up operations in the initial three countries and expand to four more. The Continuing Resolution set to pass into law on February 15th would hold funding to FY2006 levels, or $100 million total, effectively cutting funding available to the PMI and other malaria control programs by a massive $134 million. This not only jeopardizes PMI activities across seven countries, but also research and development for new drugs and a malaria vaccine, and planning activities for eight more countries that will be added to the PMI in FY2008.
"US bilateral funding for malaria control programs has been trending steadily upward in the past decade, from $11 million in 1997 to $100 million in 2006," said Philip Coticelli, Communications Officer for Africa Fighting Malaria. "Level funding would buck this trend at a time when the US government is getting its malaria control policies right and poised to make a big difference."
The Continuing Resolution would also slash the US contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria by $150 million. The Global Fund is the largest global financier of malaria control efforts and a key partner in the PMI. The loss of funding to both initiatives would be devastating to Africans at risk of malaria. PMI activities protected an estimated 6 million people from malaria in 2006. $135 million will protect another 30 million people in seven African countries in 2007.
The coalition funding request called for malaria funding to be increased at a minimum to the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved figure of $234 million. The letter was sent today to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and copied to various other members of Congress. The 50 signatories included National Malaria Control Programs in Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda, Virgin Unite, Novartis Corporation, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication, Swiss Tropical Institute, and a variety of public health, economic development, medical research and community-building organizations from 20 countries around the world.