The United Nations (U.N.) gathered in New York late last November to celebrate positive progress on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals made to curb one of the world’s deadliest diseases: malaria. Global leaders, diplomats, and health experts were also present to witness the good news.
“Today, we celebrate major advances in our fight against malaria,” U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said in a message.
In 2000, a set of eight universally-agreed goals to rid the world of extreme poverty and disease by 2015 was developed by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The program saw much success, particularly regarding malaria.
“The world’s success in rolling back malaria shows just what can be achieved with the right kind of determination and partnerships,” said Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly. “It provides bold inspiration to all nations that seek to create a healthy environment for their children and adults. We can and we must eliminate malaria by 2030.”
In order to achieve the 2030 target, the UN says that they will need full cooperation from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the World Health Organization (WHO). “In it, we have the path forward,” said Lykketoft. “I urge all members states to fully support implementation of this strategic plan.”
The UN announced that it surpassed MDG goals to “bring reversing malaria incidence by 2015.” Their progress is responsible for 6.2 million averted malaria deaths, 97 percent of which are young children.
Over 100 countries are declared “free” of malaria. Another 55 are on track to reduce new malaria cases by at least 75 percent by the end of the year. African countries are even seeing fewer malaria cases, a historical statistic for a continent that has struggled against the disease.
Despite the progress made, WHO estimates that approximately 214 million people were infected with malaria in 2015. Of that staggering number, 472,000 people lost their lives, a large percentage of which were children under the age of five.
Advancements in technology, as well as new measures, have helped reduce malaria deaths by up to 20 percent in African children since 2000. About 95,000 newborn deaths related to malaria pregnancy have also been averted between 2009 and 2012.
Although health ministers will move away from the eight Millennium Development Goals and transition to a new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) next year, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is “urging continued commitment to achieve malaria elimination by 2030” while also helping to advance development across government sectors.
“Under MDGs, we have seen what can be achieved when we join our efforts and come together in a coordinated fashion,” said Herv Verhoosel, Representative from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat in New York.
“As we set our sights on elimination, we stand to avert nearly 3 billion cases of infection and generate some $4 trillion in additional economic output over the next 15 years,” he said. “But we must ensure political commitment and predictable financial resources necessary to carry us over the finish line.”
– Alyson Atondo