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Global Malaria Action Plan Pledges $3 Billion to Eradicate Disease

World and business leaders have pledged $3 billion to help eradicate malaria. The funding will support a new Global Malaria Action Plan that aims to wipe out the disease in Africa by 2015. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The statistics are daunting - a child dies every 30 seconds from this preventable disease. But the new action plan supported by public and private funds, ambitiously aims to virtually stop this killer by the year 2015.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who announced his country's pledge of $74 million toward malaria research at Thursday's summit on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly debate, said the action plan will take on the disease from several angles.

"This is a comprehensive plan," he said. "We will not only support bed nets, we will support research, we will support cutting the cost of drugs, and we will support building the capacity of healthcare systems."

Malaria can be found in many regions of the world, but 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. This mosquito-borne illness also has devastating economic effects in Africa, costing $12 billion each year.

The World Bank announced it would contribute more than $1 billion to fight the disease on that continent, to help governments expand malaria prevention, care and treatment programs over the next three years.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced that his foundation will provide millions of dollars towards the development of a new generation of malaria vaccines.

"We want to have a vaccine that has an even better effect - 100 percent coverage - and to promote that we are announcing today that the Gates Foundation is giving an additional $168 million to the malaria vaccine initiative," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the $3 billion in new commitments, saying the approach being used to combat malaria can serve as a model for the fight against other social issues such as hunger, poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality.