Saturday is World Malaria Day, and the international community is marking it with new pledges to curb the disease.

In a statement Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States wants to help meet the United Nations' goal to end malaria deaths by 2015.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. commitment begins with ending malaria as a major public health threat in Africa.  

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says the United States will work with religious leaders to provide more mosquito nets, insecticides, affordable drugs and education to communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

Malaria kills nearly one million people in Africa each year, and costs countries billions of dollars.

But those African nations with active malaria prevention programs have shown encouraging results. Recent health surveys in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana and Kenya show decreases in the mortality rate from the disease.

The head of the United Nations Children's Fund says the world is poised to make malaria a rare cause of death "for the first time in history."

Ann Venemen says UNICEF now has enough money to give mosquito nets to almost every African at risk of malaria by 2010.

President Obama said the United States and its global partners can build on the progress and address a range of global health threats by investing in health systems and continuing to work on prevention and treatment measures.  

In the past few months, a coalition of nations and private groups has pledged more than $3 billion to combat malaria.