Today is World Malaria Day and the global theme being promoted is sustaining gains made in recent years.
Malaria is something we can control and even though 90% of the infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa (60% of those are children) the consequences for the entire world are significant given the massive numbers of people at risk. Malaria infections result in lost productivity which affects economic progress and in children the loss of education days as well as the social and economic consequences of care are significant.
We are making progress and in just a few short years the number of malaria deaths worldwide has dropped by over 150,000. This progress is a result of a comprehensive approach to controlling the cause of malaria as a primary strategy. By distributing pesticide treated bed netting and working with regional authorities to treat standing water in order to eradicate mosquito populations, the infection rate has dropped to 225 million cases, a decline of 20% in the last decade.
The United States has been a standout in terms of supporting this cause. Beginning with President Bush the USAID program tripled funding for malaria prevention and treatment and under President Obama this funding has continued. This is one foreign aid program that is clearly working and economic gains as a result of malaria prevention and treatment efforts promote stability and economic progress in a part of the world that has been sorely lacking in both respects.