During his State of the Union Address on January 12, President Obama delivered a strong call to end malaria, stating:
“Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria — something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.”
The president’s increased attention for malaria falls in line with his fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request, which includes an $8 million increase from FY 2015.
President Obama’s optimistic address comes several months after the release of a joint United Nations and Gates Foundation report, which proposes a strategy for not just eliminating — but eradicating — malaria by 2040.
For many, this optimism is well founded. The world has already witnessed tremendous progress towards eliminating malaria. Since 2000, 6.2 million lives have been saved from this deadly, parasitic disease thanks in part to the work of committed global partners.
Yet challenges remain. Malaria continues to kill nearly half a million people every year, with 90 percent of deaths occurring in Africa. The communities that are most affected also happen to be some of the poorest and most remote, lacking access to health clinics, clean water and proper sanitation.
Additionally, emerging drug resistance is threatening the progress made against malaria, highlighting the need for new tools to defeat the disease.
Through the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, the J.C. Flowers Foundation is working with partners to implement malaria elimination programs in the cross border areas of Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The highly mobile populations living in these areas are hard to reach yet are often at high risk of malaria infection and transmission into neighboring countries.
The Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative aims to halt cross-border malaria transmission through net distribution, recruitment and training of village health workers, behavior change communications, community surveillance and rapid diagnostic testing, and monitoring and evaluation and data analysis.
Efforts to eliminate or eradicate malaria from the globe will require efforts such as these, in addition to sustained support from the U.S. Government and other funders — in partnership with affected communities and their governments.