World leaders gathered today at the 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit to endorse an ambitious new Global Malaria Action Plan and commit US $3 billion toward reducing the number of malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.

Leaders at the event, including Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania; Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Malaria; Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Peter Chernin, President and COO of News Corporation and Chairman of Malaria No More; Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Bono(*), Lead Singer of U2 and Co-Founder of the ONE Campaign, hailed recent progress against malaria and said that far greater gains can be achieved in the coming years.

The funding commitments will support rapid implementation of the Global Malaria Action Plan, an unprecedented new strategy, which was launched today by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership with the broad support of a united malaria community. Developed with input from more than 250 malaria experts, the Global Malaria Action Plan is the first-ever comprehensive blueprint for global malaria control. The Plan demonstrates that by achieving the Secretary-General's call for full coverage of malaria interventions by 2010, it is possible to save more than 4.2 million lives by 2015 and lay the foundation for a longer term effort to eradicate the disease.

"With about one million people dying from malaria every year, today's launch is a real and vital turning point," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "It brings together a new coalition of forces -- government, the private sector and NGOs -- to ensure we all rise to the challenge of eradicating malaria deaths by 2015."

Record Commitments to Accelerate Malaria Control and Research

The new commitments announced today, totaling US$3 billion, include:

- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: US$1.62 billion over two years in new grants for malaria submitted to its Board for approval in November, including plans for distribution of 100 million additional bed nets.

- World Bank: US$1.1 billion to expand the Malaria Booster Program, which supports the rapid scale-up of malaria programs in Africa.

- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: US$168.7 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative for research on a new generation of malaria vaccines.

- UK Department for International Development: GBP40 million pledge to support the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria, which the UK encourages the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to host. Additionally, commitment to an increase in malaria R&D funding to at least GBP5 million per year by 2010 and to provide 20 million of the 125 million bed nets that are needed to close the global bed net gap.

- Marathon Oil / Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria / Republic of Equatorial Guinea: Coalition member Marathon Oil, its business partners and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea will co-invest US$28 million over five years to extend a highly successful nationwide malaria control program. The commitment is a lead gift for a capital campaign orchestrated by the Coalition, Malaria No More and the UN Foundation which leverages the leadership of the world's most prominent business leaders to raise US$100 million by the end of 2010.

- UN High Commission for Refugees / United Nations Foundation: US$2 million grant to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to meet the urgent need for long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets in temporary refugee camps across Africa. Working together, in 2008-2009, the partnership will distribute these bed nets in eight African countries, including Cote d'Ivoire and the Central African Republic in 2008.

- Sesame Workshop / Mattel / Malaria No More / Save the Children: US$2 million program to provide Sesame Street-themed malaria education materials and programming to children and parents in Tanzania and Zambia in order to promote bed net usage and overall malaria prevention and treatment.

"As a businessman, I firmly believe that no other cause offers the same potential return on investment as malaria," said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation and Chairman of Malaria No More. "The support committed by the public and private sectors today will go a long way to defeating this disease and unlocking the potential of Africa."

On World Malaria Day in April 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for universal coverage with proven malaria tools by the end of 2010, and appointed Ray Chambers as the UN Special Envoy for Malaria to mobilize global support for action on the disease.

"To halt and reverse the incidence of malaria is not only a specific Millennium Development Goal, it is also essential to improving maternal and child health, improving education and significantly reducing poverty," Chambers said.

Global Malaria Action Plan Provides New Blueprint for Success

The Global Malaria Action Plan lays out a detailed course of action to dramatically reduce malaria by achieving three goals:

- Short term: Reduce deaths and illness from malaria by half from 2000 levels, by scaling up access to bed nets, indoor spraying, diagnosis and treatment, including preventive treatment for pregnant women, for all in need by 2010.

- Medium term: Reduce the number of malaria deaths to near zero by 2015, through sustained universal coverage with proven anti-malaria tools.

- Long term: Maintain near-zero deaths worldwide while eliminating malaria transmission in key countries, with the ultimate goal of eradicating malaria completely with new tools and strategies.

"The Global Malaria Action Plan is a milestone in the international response to malaria," said Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. "We have had isolated accomplishments over the years, but this is the first time we have drawn together those experiences to produce guidelines to replicate success globally. Putting the plan into action must now become our number one priority."

Fully implementing the GMAP will require US$5.3 billion in 2009 worldwide (US$2.2 billion for Africa) and US$6.2 billion worldwide in 2010 (US$2.86 billion for Africa) to expand malaria control programs, and an additional US$750-900 million per year is needed for research on vaccines, drugs and other new tools.

"Malaria control programs are achieving impressive new gains, and scientific innovation could soon give us powerful new vaccines and drugs," said Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "If we build on this momentum, we can save millions of lives and chart a long-term course for eradication of this disease."

The African Union has made fighting malaria a top priority, recognizing that the disease affects millions of Africans and costs the continent an estimated US$12 billion each year in direct losses, but much more than that in lost economic growth when examined over the long term.

"So many of our nations have been crippled by malaria," said Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. "African nations are united in fighting this disease through the Global Malaria Action Plan, and we commit to ensuring that expanded funding will be well used."

Data released last week by the World Health Organization show the potential of malaria control to save lives: Between 2000 and 2006, 25 countries with large-scale malaria control programs reported reductions in malaria deaths of 50% or more. Worldwide, access to proven malaria tools is at an all-time high, according to the report.

Below are links to the Web sites of the various partner organizations:

- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: - The Global Fund: - Malaria No More: - Roll Back Malaria Partnership: - UK Department for International Development: - World Bank:


(*) Seriously. Bono. If they put him in the press release we're going to include it, though it's hardly prescient world leadership to come out in favor of clean water and say eliminating debt would end poverty in Africa.