Angelique Uzamukunda (34, r) is a Community Health Worker in Rumyongza, Rwanda. Here, she conducts a malaria test on four year old Ndayishimiye Elie with the help of his mother Rafiki Chantal (32, l) in order to monitor Elie’s nutritional intake on December 12, 2011. Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Jake Lyell
On this World Malaria Day, I’m especially optimistic. I’m convinced we can achieve a world free of malaria.
The truth is I wasn’t always sure we could turn the disease around. When I first started working on tools to combat malaria in the 1990s, most of us were focused on making sure the global burden didn’t go from bad to worse.
Times have changed.
After more than a decade of unprecedented investments and political commitment, we are changing the course of malaria. The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) tell a story of unmistakable progress. Since 2000, an ongoing scale up of interventions has saved 3.3 million lives. During the same time frame, global malaria rates fell by 25 percent. The number of child deaths has been halved.
There’s no doubt we have a lot of work ahead. Malaria remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases, claiming some 627,000 lives in 2012, most of them children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. And our progress to date is dependent on sustained investments and political will. If we slow down now, resurgence is inevitable. Not to mention the threat of emerging drug and insecticide resistance.
These challenges are humbling, and yet I’m hopeful. For the first time in recent history we are getting ahead of the curve. Our partners are developing exciting new tools and strategies to save more lives now and accelerate the path to elimination. Also promising, global leaders are mapping out a long term plan, not just to control the spread of malaria, but to wipe it out for good.
Bill and Melinda set forth their vision for elimination in 2007. In the years since, we have collaborated with our partners to develop and refine the Foundation’s strategy, Accelerate to Zero. We’re proud of work together and excited about taking the next steps to make malaria history.
I encourage you to learn more about our approach and join the conversation.
Find out more about malaria and be part of World Malaria Day by sharing this graphic which celebrates the incredible achievements already made in the fight to eradicate it.