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President Obama’s Call to Accelerate Battle Against Malaria Builds on Impressive Gains

Posted on by Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH, Director of CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
Using the bottle bioassay developed at CDC, entomologists test mosquitoes that transmit malaria for insecticide resistance. Photo: David Snyder/CDCF
Using the bottle bioassay developed at CDC, entomologists test mosquitoes that transmit malaria for insecticide resistance. Photo: David Snyder/CDCF

Malaria is a public health issue that has always been one of our highest priorities.

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Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH, Director of CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH, Director of CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

President Obama’s call to arms to end malaria worldwide as announced during his recent State of the Union address and the Administration’s request to increase resources for malaria control, underscore the remarkable progress made in the fight against the disease and a firm, emphatic commitment to end this public health scourge.

If approved by Congress, the additional resources will allow the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to increase its support to malaria-affected countries to reduce malaria deaths and substantially decrease malaria illness, toward the long-term goal of elimination. And it would build on momentum which has resulted in a halving of the number of malaria deaths globally since 2000.

The effort maintains an array of successful programs and partnerships while also adding new elements.

Children in a small village in Kenya wait in line to receive a bed net. Photo: David Snyder/CDCF
Children in a small village in Kenya wait in line to receive a bed net. Photo: David Snyder/CDCF

Specifically, PMI will launch and expand programs in four countries in West Africa – Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso – extending PMI’s reach to almost 70 million additional people at risk of malaria. PMI will be able to provide malaria prevention and control to approximately 332 million people living in endemic areas across West and Central Africa.

PMI also plans to work with partners to eliminate malaria in Cambodia and Zambia. It will also be able to procure 13.7 million insecticide treated mosquito to continue to protect 27 million people from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

The investment will also accelerate research, development and evaluation of new malaria tools focused on better diagnostics, vector control, and medicines.

Here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we stand ready to help realize this expanded vision for PMI. Malaria is a public health issue that has always been one of our highest priorities, ever since the agency was created in 1946 from a World War II era federal program called the Malaria Control in War Areas.

While the number of people treated and protected from the disease is impressive, more than 400,000 still die from malaria each year. Too many people still do not have access to the basics – bed nets and effective diagnosis and treatment. We need to develop and continually refine surveillance systems to better identify those  at risk, as well as those infected and sick with malaria, in ways that allow us to anticipate and pinpoint hotspots, so we can make the best use of malaria prevention and treatment tools.

The battle against malaria is not an easy one. But it’s a battle we won’t stop fighting until we win.

Posted on by Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH, Director of CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases and MalariaTags , , , , , , ,

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