Monrovia – The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has released its tenth annual report, documenting progress across its programs, including in Liberia.
Since 2009, Liberia has reduced all-cause mortality among children under five by 18 percent as a direct result of collective investment and action by the government, communities, donors, and partners. Malaria is a major killer of young children, and during pregnancy, malaria can pose a serious, life-threatening risk to a woman and her baby.
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) works with Liberia’s national malaria program to scale-up of proven, cost-effective, and life-saving malaria control interventions, namely long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying with insecticides, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women, diagnostic testing, and highly effective malaria treatment.
President Bush created the Initiative in 2005 when the disease was almost certainly a death sentence for most poor children in Africa. And President Obama significantly expanded the initiative. Today, PMI supports 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and countries in the Greater Mekong sub-region.
Through PMI, hundreds of millions of people have benefited from protective measures and have been diagnosed and treated for malaria. PMI has reached into the poorest of communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria flourishes, arming women, children, and families with tools to protect themselves from malaria and providing them with fast-acting medicines to cure malaria if they do become infected.
The efforts of PMI have paid off. Working with host-country governments, donor governments, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic and research partners, more than six million deaths have been averted, and a vast majority of the lives saved have been children, according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 World Malaria Report.
In a number of PMI focus countries, we witnessed reductions in both death and illness from malaria, with some countries now setting their sights on eliminating malaria completely.
“The push to end malaria is saving millions of lives, increasing attendance at school, improving worker productivity and boosting local economies,” said U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Liberia, Sheila Paskman.
“But we must do more to better protect expecting mothers and their newborns from malaria. Safe and effective treatment to prevent malaria in pregnancy is available during antenatal care, and sleeping under a long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito net is vital. Increasing access to health services — especially for the poor – is a sound and sustainable investment that can command great economic returns.”
In just the past year, PMI protected more than 16 million people by spraying homes with insecticides. PMI procured more than 42 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, 57 million antimalarial treatments, and more than 54 million rapid diagnostic tests.
PMI is also helping train community health workers and medical personnel to care for people with malaria, and is helping governments take charge of malaria campaigns in their own countries. For example, this past year alone, PMI supported training for 77,000 health workers in malaria case management.
In sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the population is now sleeping under ITNs, compared to just two percent in 2005 A rapid expansion in diagnostic testing, and in the availability of antimalarial medicines, has allowed many more people to access timely and appropriate treatment.
We are also strengthening key components of partner country health systems, including commodity supply chains, laboratories, and health information systems. The WHO World Malaria Report estimates that reductions in malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa saved those countries an estimated US $900 million over 14 years.
While there is much progress to be celebrated in the fight against malaria, it continues to exact an unacceptable toll on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Despite the historic gains, we still have a long way to go.
In 2015, there were 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 malaria-attributed deaths worldwide, with around 90 percent of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of these cases and deaths were among children under the age of five. In Africa, a child dies every other minute because of the disease.
The U.S. Government, through PMI, stands as a steadfast partner in the global fight against malaria, working together with host country governments and the broader malaria partnership to maintain the momentum for malaria elimination. The U.S. Government remains firmly dedicated to fighting malaria and saving lives with Liberia.