The U.S Government says World Malaria Day is observed each year by the global community to call attention to the disease, as well as to mobilize action to combat it.
The U.S. Embassy release issued in Monrovia said on this occasion, the President’s Malaria Initiative or PMI, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development or USAID and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, releases its ninth annual report which describes the role and contributions of the U.S. Government in the effort to reduce the burden of malaria in Liberia, and other focus countries in Africa, and to monitor anti-malarial drug resistance and decrease malaria transmission in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
According to the release, the PMI works with Liberia’ snational malaria program, targeting pregnant women and children under five – the two most vulnerable groups from malaria – and focusing on rural areas where the greatest burden of the disease tends to fall on families with lower incomes and limited access to health care, noting that to date, 17 of the 19 PMI focus countries have seen reductions in childhood mortality rates, ranging from 18 percent (in both Liberia and Nigeria) to 55 percent (in both Senegal and Zambia). These data, according to the embassy release, contribute to the growing evidence that malaria prevention and treatment are playing a major role in these decreases in under-five mortality.
The release quoted the U.S Government as saying in Liberia, child survival is improving and all-cause mortality rates among children under the age of five have declined from 114 per 1,000 to 94 per 1,000 over the period 2009-2013.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2014 World Malaria Report, the estimated malaria mortality rate in children under five decreased by 58 percent in the Africa region between 2000 and 2013, while the scale-up of malaria control interventions over the same period resulted in an estimated 4.3 million fewer malaria deaths. These gains were attributed primarily to increased use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, accurate diagnostic tests, and effective drug therapies.
“We celebrate the dramatic progress that has been made in reducing the burden of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa,’ said Deborah Malac, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia. This progress is due to the leadership of Liberia’s government and partnership — of international donors including the U.S., The Global Fund, the private sector, non-governmental and faith-based organizations, local leaders, civil society, philanthropists, and many others. But Liberia, PMI, and The Global Fund deserve special praise for fueling this remarkable progress against malaria.”
Globally, in FY 2014, PMI protected more than 18 million people with indoor residual spraying, as well as procured more than 31 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, 80 million anti-malarial treatments, and more than 59 million rapid diagnostic tests, the embassy release indicated.
“We recommit to bringing the tools and effective solutions we already possess to people in need, where they live, in rural communities; and continuing to invest in research and development for new and improved tools to combat this disease, from vaccines to new drugs to more sensitive diagnostics and surveillance systems; we will get much closer to a world without malaria,” said Rear Admiral (RET) Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator.
The PMI was launched in June 2005 by President George W. Bush to reduce the intolerable burden of malaria and help relieve poverty on the African continent. The initiative has expanded under President Barack Obama, and receives sustained bipartisan support in Congress.
In February 2015, PMI launched its next six-year strategy for 2015 – 2020. The Strategy takes into account the progress over the past decade and the new challenges that have arisen, setting forth a vision, goal, objectives, and strategic approach for PMI through 2020, while reaffirming the longer-term goal of a world without malaria.
It said partnerships with national governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, other multilateral and bilateral organizations, foundations, and a multitude of non-governmental organizations will make this possible.
The PMI, in collaboration with partners, has reached millions of people in Liberia with life-saving prevention and treatment measures, the U.S. Embassy release concluded.