This week's blog comes from Jeremy Lefroy MP, Jeremy is CFID Vice Chair, a member of the International Development Select Committee and Chair of the APPG for Malaria. He has written this piece alongside Lis Wallace of Malaria No More highlighting World Malaria Day and the unprecedented progress that's been made against one of the world's deadliest diseases and the UK's leadership in this area.
I believe the fight against malaria is one of the most important endeavours of our time. As the world grapples with the spread of Zika – another mosquito-borne disease - and braces for new epidemics that can spread rapidly across the globe and pose a threat to us all, we are making good progress on one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases.
This World Malaria Day (25th April) we can welcome the unprecedented progress that’s been made against malaria in the last 15 years - a powerful demonstration of what we can do when we come together across continents and party lines – to confront a global health and human crisis. The leadership of the United Kingdom and other government donors such as the United States, combined with strong commitments from malaria-endemic countries, has played a key role in saving more than 6.2 million lives since 2000 and reducing deaths from malaria by more than 60%. It is these partnerships that have been at the heart of our progress to date, and will continue to be vital to ending this disease.
A disease that once killed more than 1 million children a year is retreating. For the first time, we have a plan for ending malaria within a generation. But we cannot let up. Malaria still threatens nearly half the world’s population and kills nearly half a million people every year – mostly children in Africa. This disease, like the mosquitoes that carry it, is wily and stubborn. History has shown us that malaria will swiftly return if we look away.
The fight against malaria enjoys cross-party support here in the U.K. There is good reason for this given that anti-malaria work is one of the best buys in global health. It is a powerful example of aid money spent wisely. The disease is preventable and treatable. Known interventions – sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, rapid diagnosis and treatment – all make a difference. The connection between investment and impact is tangible. Every pound spent on malaria prevention and treatment is estimated to deliver £36 in social and economic benefits. That translates to every £5 mosquito net returning £180. As Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, says, a healthy, prosperous world is in Britain’s interest; “In responding to the needs of the poorest, we address our own too……. what benefits them, also benefits us”.
Knowing that we need to stay a step ahead of this disease, the U.K. has also been a leader in the research into and development of new tools, including better diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines, surveillance and more effective ways of eliminating mosquitoes. We have built strong public-private partnerships, including the recent announcement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of the £1 billion Ross Fund. The fund, named after Sir Ronald Ross who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1902 for his discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria, will include support for research and development of new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for malaria.
If we manage to eliminate malaria, it will have an important ripple effect across the globe. Malaria takes the greatest toll on children and pregnant women, mostly in Africa. When malaria cases and deaths fall, social and economic development increase. Malaria affects education, worker productivity and health costs. Investing in malaria improves the capacity of health systems and reduces inequity. Eliminating malaria will prove what can be done when we put politics aside and show clearly that aid works.
On Monday 25th the APPG for Malaria & NTDs will host ‘Beating Malaria: UK leadership & Innovation to end malaria for good’ in the Attlee Suite between 3:15 and 4:45. Parliamentary colleagues are invited to drop in to show their support for UK leadership in the fight for malaria and to experience some of the latest science and innovations which are helping to cement the UK as a global leader in efforts to end malaria for good.
This blog was originally posted on PoliticsHome, available here. Reposted here with Jeremy Lefroy MP's kind permission.