UNITED NATIONS – Buoyed by new data showing malaria rates are falling for the first time in some African nations, philanthropies, international organizations and corporations announced on Thursday more than $1.4 billion in private funding toward eradicating the disease over the next seven years.
The unprecedented level of funding comes as global health leaders convened a summit here to unveil a Global Malaria Action Plan, the first ever comprehensive blueprint for eliminating a disease that is the single greatest cause of death for the world’s children.
In a dramatic series of announcements, world leaders declared what experts just two years ago considered virtually impossible: They believe the number of malaria deaths can fall from more than 1 million annually to zero by 2015. In a world filled with chronic disease, leaders hailed the swift advances as a global health milestone.
Malaria is caused by a parasite and transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and the spraying of homes and buildings, as well as scientific advances toward developing a vaccine, have contributed to the decline in malaria deaths.
“We are getting closer to containing this scourge,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a morning address to a special session of the General Assembly.
The funding commitments announced Thursday include: $1.1 billion from the World Bank for a scale-up of the Malaria Booster Program; $168.7 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund research on a new generation of malaria vaccines; $2 million from Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation to deliver insecticide-treated bed nets to more than 630,000 people in African refugee camps; and $100 million from a coalition of corporations, including a $28 million commitment from Marathon Oil.