One day malaria will be vaccine-preventable

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Statement by the GAVI Alliance interim CEO, Helen Evans 

Geneva, 25 April 2011 - Anybody travelling to Africa or Asia will be aware of the dangers of malaria.

But for those who live in these regions, malaria is an everyday and deadly reality.

Immunisation can be a powerful and cost-effective intervention.

Helen Evans, Interim CEO, GAVI Alliance

Malaria kills a child every 45 seconds, the vast majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is a leading cause of death for children under five.

And even as it kills so many people - nearly 800,000 every year - malaria has shown itself to be an intelligent enemy and a great survivor.

Insecticide-treated malaria nets, indoor residual spraying, and new diagnostic and treatment technologies have reduced the death toll from malaria.

Eleven African countries, backed by international partners, have halved the number of malaria deaths; hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved across the continent.

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria has played a key role in combating this deadly disease.

But the mosquitoes and the malaria parasite itself have shown themselves adaptable to new attacks, developing drug resistance. And access to treatment and medicines in the rural areas of Africa is not universal.

Existing interventions are critical tools and they are saving lives today. For the future, the GAVI Alliance hopes and believes that immunisation will one day play a major role in tackling this awful disease.

Immunisation can be a powerful and cost-effective intervention, as we have seen with other diseases. It can reach the remotest corners, preventing illness before treatment is needed.

On the occasion of World Malaria Day, we wish to recognise the tremendous efforts being made by so many - particularly at the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria partnership and Malaria No More - to subdue this terrible disease.

And we look to the day when malaria will be a vaccine-preventable disease.

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