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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: April 25, 2010
Contact: Division of News & Electronic Media, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

The United States Is Helping to “Count Malaria Out” World Malaria Day – Sunday, April 25, 2010

Statement by R.J. Simonds, MD; Acting Director; Center for Global Health

As we mark World Malaria Day this Sunday, the need to re–commit to efforts to reduce malaria's health burden—and ultimately eradicate it—is highlighted by recent experience in Haiti.

Malaria occurs throughout Haiti. In 2008, Haiti reported 37,664 cases of malaria, although the actual burden likely was much greater. This year, millions of Haitians displaced by the devastating earthquake in January are at increased risk of the disease because they are living in tents and other temporary shelters that offer less protection against the bite of the infected mosquitoes that carry the disease.

The increased malaria risk during Haiti's recovery, while substantial, represents only a small part of the worldwide problem. Malaria's fevers and chills are familiar to millions who live in impoverished countries. The World Health Organization estimates approximately 311 million cases of malaria occur each year—causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in young children in sub–Saharan Africa. Malaria can also cause dangerously low birth weights and permanent disability. Malaria contributes to poverty—in Africa alone, costs of illness, treatment, and premature death from malaria are at least $12 billion per year.

The U.S. government is part of a strong global partnership making progress to reduce the health burden of malaria. The U.S. President's Malaria Initiative, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented jointly with CDC, has contributed to substantial reductions in reported cases of malaria in Rwanda, Zambia and other sub–Saharan African countries. Other global institutions, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have also contributed to this success.

CDC takes seriously the charge from the U.S. Congress to track where and when malaria transmission takes place so that public health officials can treat cases that occur and prevent new ones. Globally, CDC is helping to develop and test tools to stop malaria transmission: insecticide–treated bed nets to protect families from mosquitoes, accurate and rapid diagnostic tests, and effective drugs. With adequate new resources, we can boost efforts to monitor resistance to drugs and insecticides and ensure that new drugs are developed and tested. And we can find new ways to collect the strategic information needed to monitor progress on the road to elimination.

This Sunday, April 25, 2010, is World Malaria Day and we re–commit ourselves to “Counting Malaria Out.”  We have the tools, the commitment, and the expertise. We must now further invest in our ability to detect and respond to the changing face of malaria. Count us in for as long as it takes to count malaria out.

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