Australian leadership to fight malaria and save lives

Media release

2 November 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced Australia will spend more than $100 million over the next four years to help reduce deaths and illness from malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.

Senator Carr announced the funding at Malaria2012: Saving Lives in the Asia Pacific conference in Sydney.

He is co-hosting the ministerial action meeting with the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers.

Senator Carr said in 2010, there were over 30 million malaria cases and around 42,000 deaths in the region, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"The disease impacts disproportionately on the poor and has major economic and development implications," Senator Carr said.

"We have committed as a region to reduce deaths and cases of malaria by 75 per cent, and to contribute to the goal of near zero deaths globally.

"One person is dying every minute from malaria. Many more will die if we do not urgently address drug-resistant malaria.

"If we accelerate our efforts we could save 70,000 lives and prevent around 50 million malaria cases by 2015.

"To do this, we need to work together to provide 276 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets; two billion rapid diagnostic tests and 47 million quality malaria treatments.

"We will establish a working group with regional leaders to drive joint action and advance malaria discussions following the upcoming East Asia Summit."

The conference has brought together over 300 delegates from more than 30 countries and 134 organisations to agree on how to address issues such as the rise of drug-resistant malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.

Drug resistance is caused by giving of the wrong treatment, patients not completing their treatments, the manufacture and use of substandard drugs.

Most loss of life happens in Africa, but 64 per cent of the Asia Pacific population is exposed to malaria.

Drug resistance is likely to be costly and may adversely affect industries such as tourism in the Asia Pacific region.

Australia's funding for malaria includes support for several country and regional programs, including $14.5 million to address drug resistant malaria control and elimination activities in the Mekong and over $20 million for malaria programs in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Australia will also provide $10 million for malaria research as the first investment under the aid program's new Medical Research Strategy.

Senator Carr recently announced the appointment of Mr James Gilling as Australia's Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This appointment reflects Australia's focus on the major health challenges facing the region.

The World Health Organisation's Defeating Malaria in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Report was also launched at the conference.

Further information is available on the conference website http://malaria2012conference.com

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