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Roll Back Malaria partners set ambitious financial targets for 19 African countries fighting malaria

23 April 2007

Geneva - On the occasion of Africa Malaria Day - April 25th, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership announced its target to secure a 50% success rate for malaria grant applications globally and 80% success for 19 or more countries in Africa for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s seventh round of funding.

Representatives from UN agencies, donors, civil society, foundations and African countries have committed nearly US$1 million to an intensive program of support that will ensure a greater number of countries will secure Round 7 funding, improve their performance and leverage further grants or loans from other financing sources.

The Global Fund currently provides 64% of malaria control funding worldwide with much of the remaining 36% of external funding coming from the World Bank and the US President's Initiative. Every year a round of funding is conducted and grants are awarded to countries based on an assessment of the technical quality of the programs requesting support. Over six rounds the Global Fund has approved malaria grants with a total value of US$2.6 billion. However, in round 6, approved last November, only 30% of malaria applications were considered of sufficient quality to be funded.

"This is the first phase of a massive initiative both to ensure sustained funding and improve countries ability to achieve impact ," said Dr Awa Marie Coll Seck , Executive Director of the RBM Partnership. "Success breeds success. We all need to make the money work better and achieve results if we are to secure predictable funding and meet ambitious malaria control targets over the next three years."

Malaria poses one of the greatest threats to life in the developing world with more than one million malaria deaths worldwide and over 90% of these deaths occurring in Africa, south of the Sahara. In many African countries, malaria is the single leading cause of death, with one child dying every 30 seconds. Antimalarial medicines are a critical component in the fight against malaria, alongside preventive interventions such as insecticide treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying.

New, effective medicines, effective prevention methods, and increased financing provide a global opportunity to reduce malaria deaths by half by 2015. In areas like Zanzibar, Rwanda and Mozambique, malaria deaths have been cut by 40 – 90 percent in only two years. The increase in funding and technical advice now available to countries most affected by malaria carries a potential to expand such success across Africa and throughout other malaria-endemic areas of the world.

To date, the Global Fund has released US$950 million to countries, resulting in the distribution of 18 million nets and 23 million cases of malaria treated , including with artemisinin combination therapies - ACTs - the most effective treatments to date. This, together with funding from the World Bank, UNICEF, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, and other donor countries, have led to dramatic positive results in some parts of Africa.

"The lesson learned from the last funding round was that technical support provided by partners was invaluable to countries,” said Prof Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ”Where it was available countries most often succeeded in securing grants. We welcome the concerted effort by the RBM Partnership to help countries gain access to the resources they need to roll back malaria.”

Chaired by UNICEF and the World Bank, the RBM’s Harmonization Working Group has embarked on extensive training on Global Fund application guidelines and proposal writing workshops with technical leadership provided by World Health Organization. In addition, over 30 consultants have been engaged to work with 19 countries in the preparation of their Global Fund proposals with all partners providing expertise to ensure high quality proposals are delivered to the Fund by the July 4th deadline for Round 7.

The working group is also providing support to countries who are facing challenges with implementation and working closely with all partners to develop an early warning system for countries facing imminent crisis with existing grants. Late last year Liberia, Burundi and others faced potential loss of life when malaria treatments ran out due to lack of funds. The working group flagged this emergency to the international community and the newly formed UNITAID shored up ACT supplies using airline levies at the request of partners.

"It is unacceptable that lifesaving drugs for malaria should run out. We have a moral imperative to make sure we prevent such emergencies. Together this RBM working group can tackle issues on the ground and deliver the desired results - fully funded and well implemented malaria control plans which save lives," said Dr Arata Kochi , Director of the Global Malaria Program at the World Health Organization.

Donor resources for malaria have increased significantly over the last few years. Since launching the Booster Program in April 2005, the World Bank has increased its financial support for malaria control Africa 8-fold and provided $395 million in funding for 13 African countries through the International Development Association. The US President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) is providing more than $1.2 billion over five years to reduce deaths due to malaria by 50 percent in 15 African countries.

Recent increase in contributions to the Global Fund have also boosted available resources. This years commitment from the U.S. government to the Fund is the largest ever pledged (US$ 724 million in Feb 2007) and France is the second largest contributor with US$300 million pledged in 2007. Of the Global Fund’s total grant commitments of US$7 billion, US$1.7 billion is for malaria (with a potential of US$900 million more, if the grants perform well). However to achieve results the fight against malaria requires over US$ 3 billion annually - current malaria funding falls short by about US$2.0 billion.

"It is imperative that the world takes note of the tremendous effort now taking place to turn around the malaria pandemic and provide the funding needed to reach internationally agreed targets," stated Professor Michel Kazatchkine Executive Director of the Global Fund. "We have successes to show. We know that more money leads to better results, and we know we can still reach the targets of halving the death by malaria by 2015. The G8 and other donors must make use of this opportunity we have to deal with one of the world’s biggest killers and obstacles to development in the world’s poorest countries."

According to a recent review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) overall aid levels from the West declined in 2006 by 5%.

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