Ten years ago, the administration of then-President George W. Bush launched the President’s Malaria Initiative, or PMI: a $1.2 billion program that aimed to reduce by half, deaths from malaria in 15 of the hardest-hit countries in Africa. In 2008, the program was expanded to 19 African countries, and the Greater Mekong sub-region.
Over the past decade, working through this initiative, the United States and its partners have helped the target countries make significant strides toward controlling malaria.
PMI coordinator, Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, and Global HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., wrote recently in a blog that “the contributions of PMI, together with those of other partners, have dramatically improved coverage of key malaria control interventions including use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment, and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women.”
Indeed, according to the World Health Organization, since 2001, malaria deaths have decreased by 47 percent globally. That’s over 4 million lives spared. Most of that progress has taken place since 2005.
Still, according to the WHO, in 2013 alone, malaria sickened some 198 million people and killed 584,000 of them. Clearly, more needs to be done.
The 2005 President’s Malaria Initiative expires at the end of this year. And so, the Administration of President Barack Obama has formulated a new plan that will take us through 2020.
The new strategy begins with the ultimate goal of eliminating malaria, everywhere. To get us started, over the next five years, we will work with our partners to reduce malaria mortality in PMI countries by one-third from today’s levels. That means malaria levels 80 percent lower than they were in 2000.
We will also work to reduce the occurrence of malaria within PMI populations by 40 percent from today’s levels, and help at least five PMI-supported countries to meet the World Health Organization criteria for pre-elimination.
“There is no greater joy than knowing children, mothers, and communities are thriving because malaria . . .no longer ravage[s] villages,” wrote program coordinators Ziemer and Birx. “America’s results-driven global health assistance saves and improves lives, reduces long-term health costs, and lays the foundation for sustainable development in the world’s poorest countries.”