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World Vision: Much More Needs to be Done to Combat Malaria, Despite Successes

  • Joe DeCapua

A humanitarian agency says greater funding, resources and coordination are needed if targets are to be reached to reduce malaria cases. World Vision is reacting to the World Health Organization’s annual report on the disease, which says “significant progress has been made in delivering life-saving malaria nets and treatments.”

Craig Jaggers, World Vision’s health and education advisor, says he’s not surprised at the successes detailed in the report. He credits his own agency as well as the U.S. government, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the World Bank and others.

Targets in sight, but…

“The report clearly reveals there are huge gaps in reaching some of the global targets that have been established by the World Health Assembly in Roll Back Malaria [campaign],” he says.

Jaggers says the 2010 targets call for 80 percent coverage using “primary interventions” such as insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and anti-malarial medication. Another target is a 50 percent reduction in the number of malaria deaths.

“So with 31 percent coverage for long lasting insecticide treated nets, we’re still quite a long way from the 80 percent target that is needed to be reached,” he says.

Just a matter of money?

“No, it requires additional resources and that’s where the primary need is. But it’s also a need of coordination. We’re seeing at the local level that’s improving, but there needs to be better coordination between the national malaria control plan and the communities that are hardest hit,” says the World Vision advisor.

He calls local communities an “essential link, essential component” in reaching the 2010 targets.

To get local involvement, he says, “really requires empowering the community and helping give them ownership. Many of the communities know malaria. They realize the challenges, but they don’t have the resources necessarily or the organization to help address it.”

World Vision provides training in malaria prevention and access to resources.

“People are recognizing the great value,” he says,” of a tool like a bed net, which for us is very inexpensive, six dollars. But this is literally saving lives.”

The WHO World Malaria Report says international funding for malaria was $1.7 billion in 2009, compared to $730 million in 2006. However, Jaggers says the international funding goal was set much higher.

“The global goal is about $5 billion a year,” he says, “to really bring some of these interventions up to scale to make sure we reach that 80 percent target that we had and to really start to bring down the number of malaria deaths.”

World Vision and others are lobbying the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration to help meet the funding goal.

“One of the things that we’re doing here in the U.S. is really making sure that Congress fulfills its commitment and promise to provide $5 billion over five years for malaria programs,” he says.

He adds that malaria interventions, including bed nets, treatment and indoor spraying, go a long way toward preventing childhood deaths.

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