By Sadiya Hamza
New York- UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon on Saturday called on the international community to “invest in the future: defeat malaria“.
Ban made the call in a message in New York to mark the World Malaria Day observed on April 25 of every year.
He said: “’We have a real opportunity to defeat this terrible disease. Let’s not waste it.
“We urgently need to get insecticide-treated nets to all people at risk in sub-Saharan Africa, not just half of them.
“We must address the recent decline in indoor residual spraying – another key intervention for reducing new infections.
“We have to do more for the millions of people, who cannot get tested and treated for malaria.
“We must also move more decisively to tackle insecticide and drug resistance.“
According to the UN secretary-general, this means investing more in tried and tested approaches to malaria prevention and treatment, strengthening health systems in the world’s poorest countries and intensifying efforts to develop new tools and approaches.
The UN Chief said that in 2014, the World Health Organisation reported that the rate at which people died from malaria had fallen by almost half since the beginning of this century.
He said that one reason for the substantial improvement was the increased availability of insecticide-treated bed nets.
He added that in 2013, almost half of all the people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, up from just three per cent in 2004.
Ban said that the increased access was the result of massively improved access to accurate malaria diagnostics and effective treatment.
According to the UN chief, the number of rapid diagnostic tests procured globally increased to 319 million, up from 46 million as at 2008.
He added that in the same year, 392 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies – a key intervention to treat malaria – were procured, up from 11 million in 2005.
He said that as a result, fewer people were becoming infected with malaria, with more people getting the medicines they needed.
“This tremendous achievement is clear proof that we can win the global fight against malaria. We have the tools and the know-how.
‘“But we still need to invest in getting these tools to a lot more people if we are to further reduce the number of people becoming ill with malaria and further cut the number of people who die each year,“ he said. (NAN)