AFM Marks World Malaria Day

25 Apr 2012
Africa Fighting Malaria
Today, April 25th, marks World Malaria Day - a day on which we remind ourselves about the terrible toll of malaria worldwide and recommit ourselves to fight this disease. We at Africa Fighting Malaria do this in various ways - for instance, to mark WMD we recently donated $10,000 to a trusted and reputable clinic in Uganda for the purchase of safe and effective artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). We are grateful to our supporters from around the world who have helped us to raise these funds - when compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on malaria control worldwide, it may seem like a drop in the bucket, but this donation will make an enormous difference to children in Uganda that far too often go without proper, safe diagnosis and treatment of malaria.

We also published a research paper in Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine, examining the implications for indoor residual spraying programs of rising costs of insecticides. Public health insecticides (PHIs) form the foundation of all malaria control programs and save millions of lives every year - yet these life-saving chemicals are rarely given the recognition they deserve. To make matters worse, environmental groups campaign against their use in the misguided and dangerous belief that malaria can be controlled without insecticides. The upshot is that malaria control programs have few alternative insecticides when resistance to the most widely used chemicals - pyrethroids - emerge, and what alternatives exist are considerably more expensive. We call on Congress and others to adopt policies that encourage investment in new PHIs and ensure "access" pricing for the existing products.

The US Senate recently adopted a resolution to mark World Malaria Day - we are grateful for the leadership shown by several Senators from both parties - but as we explain here, much more than back-patting, increased budgets and cheer leading for malaria will be needed to sustain the fight against this disease.

Progress has been made against malaria recently, much of it thanks to US taxpayer-funded programs. The success of these programs has been in large part due to accountability and measurement. We need to sustain funding for malaria control, as this interesting paper by Justin Cohen and others explains; however, in some cases money can be spent badly and recklessly as we explain in our updated paper on the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm). More money spent badly doesn't just annoy taxpayers, it can seriously undermine the fight against this disease.

Happy Malaria Day.