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Press releases 2011

HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium Visits Gulf Region to Encourage Commitment against Malaria and Other Preventable Diseases

together with the Executive Directors from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
Press release 24.11.2011

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 24 November 2011 – On her second advocacy trip to the Gulf as Special Representative to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Astrid of Belgium will visit the region from 26-30 November, including planned visits to Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City. Joined by RBM Executive Director Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck and Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Professor Michel Kazatchkine, the purpose of the Princess's visit is to advocate stronger regional investment in global malaria control efforts.

"Malaria is important to me because of its burden on the most vulnerable – pregnant women and children," says HRH Princess Astrid. "In my work with the RBM Partnership, I've seen first-hand the complete devastation malaria imposes on communities. I've also seen the incredible hope provided by simple, cost-effective tools that prevent and treat infection and advance other development goals that will lift communities out of poverty."

Malaria control efforts in the past decade have resulted in a 38 percent decrease in global malaria deaths, and at least ten of the most endemic countries in Africa have reported declines in new malaria cases and steep falls in child mortality of 50 to 80 percent. But more work remains. Despite advancements, malaria continues to infect 247 million people each year and kill more young children than any other single disease, claiming the life of a child in Africa every 45 seconds.

"Our projects and policies are working, but the successes remain partial and fragile," says Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of The Roll Back Malaria Partnership. "Despite advances in diagnostics, prevention and treatment, malaria continues to kill approximately 780,000 people annually. Our successes must be replicated across all regions affected by malaria, and they need to be expanded to prevent the disease. This will require a concerted effort and sustained commitment to proven, cost-effective tools and continued scientific advancement."

The fight against malaria has forged one of the most effective initiatives in global public health, under the leadership of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which has been highly successful in coordinating efforts and directing resources to where the need is greatest. The Global Fund provides two-thirds of international funding in the global effort to control the disease, and to date programs supported by the Global Fund have distributed 190 million insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria. Despite remarkable progress in the past few years, any reduction in the flow of funding to fight the disease could put recent achievements at risk.

"Investments in malaria prevention and control have been among the best investments in global health, resulting in a dramatic decrease in malaria deaths and illness. If adequate financial resources are secured, we could further scale up our efforts and malaria could be eliminated as a public health problem in most malaria-endemic countries by 2015. It can be done." said the Global Fund's Executive Director, Professor Michel Kazatchkine.

In the coming week, the delegation will travel throughout the region to meet with influencers and government officials to advance conversations around the internationally agreed-upon Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically MDG 6, which calls for a reduction in HIV, malaria and other neglected diseases by 2015. Established at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000, the eight MDGs range in scope – from poverty to education to prevention of diseases like HIV, TB and malaria – and form a roadmap to meet the needs of the world's most vulnerable people. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi, through the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD), has been a critical supporter of RBM's efforts to reverse the incidence of malaria in some of the most burdened areas of the world.

Hervé Verhoosel,
RBM, Representative in New York and Head of External Relations,
(m) +1 917 345 5238

Veronique Taveau,
The Global Fund,
(m) +41 79 362 97 04

Trey Watkins,
RBM, External Relations,
(m) +1 347 931 0667

NOTE: Mr. Verhoosel and Mr. Watkins will be in the region and available for inquiries in advance of the delegation's visit, per the below dates:
21-22 November: Kuwait City, Kuwait (JW Marriot, (+965) 2 245 5550)
23 November: Doha, Qatar (Intercontinental Hotel, (+974) 4 484 4444)
24-25 November: Abu Dhabi, UAE (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, (+971) 2811 5888)

The Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. Founded in 1998 by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank and strengthened by the expertise, resources and commitment of more than 500 partner organizations, RBM is a public-private partnership that facilitates the incubation of new ideas, lends support to innovative approaches, promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling, harmonizing and amplifying partner-driven advocacy initiatives. RBM secures policy guidance and financial and technical support for control efforts in countries and monitors progress towards universal goals. The RBM Secretariat is hosted at WHO in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a unique, public-private partnership and international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities represents an innovative approach to international health financing. The Global Fund's model is based on the concepts of country ownership and performance-based funding, which means that people in countries implement their own programs based on their priorities and the Global Fund provides financing on the condition that verifiable results are achieved.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has become the main financier of programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, with approved funding of US$ 22.4 billion for more than 600 programs in 150 countries. The Global Fund works in close collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organizations to supplement existing efforts in dealing with the three diseases.