Each year, between 300 and 500 million people suffer the effects of malaria. The disease takes the lives of more than one million people every year. More than 80 percent of the victims are in Sub-Saharan Africa – most of them children under the age of 5. The economic cost of the disease to Africa is more than $12 billion in Gross Domestic Product.
President Barack Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to take a leading role in efforts to end deaths from malaria by 2015.
In his statement for World Malaria Day [April 25th], President Obama noted that "together, we have made great strides in addressing this preventable and treatable disease. Across Africa, children and their families are sleeping under bed nets; local groups are working with pregnant women and mothers so that anti-malarial drugs are available for them and for their sick children."
For its part, the United States provided malaria prevention or treatment measures to more than 32 million people in 15 focus countries across Africa in the past year alone.
Mr. Obama said optimism is growing across African society that the ambitious goal of ending malaria deaths can be met.
"In Africa," he said, "where the disease burden is greatest, many countries are making dramatic gains in reducing the terrible burden of malaria, particularly for the benefit of those most vulnerable, so that malaria is no longer an intractable part of life."
President Obama said that the United States, working with African nations and other international partners, can build on the progress already made and address a broad range of global health threats by investing in health systems and effective prevention and treatment measures.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says, "With solutions already at hand, we can envision a world free of the scourge of malaria." The U.S., she said, will redouble its own efforts "and we will call on our partners to join us in reaching the day when we can celebrate a world without malaria."