The President’s Malaria Initiative, Three Years In

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In its third annual report released today, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) announced that it has reached more than 32 million people with malaria prevention and treatment activities in Africa. This is an impressive achievement for an agency created just three years ago, and one that represents a significant scale-up from 6 million people reached in 2006 and 25 million people reached in 2007.

PMI is a $1.2 billion five-year initiative of the U.S. government to reduce the burden of malaria and help alleviate poverty on the African continent. Specifically, it is intended to cut malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 15 of the hardest hit counties. The initiative is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency originally tasked with malaria control in the U.S. over 60 years ago.

To achieve its mandate, PMI works to reduce malaria infections and deaths through proven and effective prevention and treatment programs. In 2008, PMI obtained more than 6.4 million long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) for distribution, and 15.6 million artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) treatments. An estimated 6 million houses were covered by indoor residual spraying, providing protection from mosquito bites for nearly 25 million people.

With support from PMI, countries like Rwanda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda have all reported declines in the number of people infected with malaria. In Zambia, between 2006 and 2008, malaria prevalence fell by 53 percent and severe anemia cases in children under 5, which is closely linked with malaria, dropped by 68 percent. PMI credits country governments, the Global Fund, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners for the malaria control successes being seen.

-Rena Pacheco-Theard

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