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Gaining ground on malaria

Readers: There is good news today on the global drive to eradicate malaria. I have asked Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation, to share the encouraging details. As head of the foundation, ExxonMobil’s main philanthropic arm, Suzanne is actively engaged in the Foundation’s work to prevent and treat this disease. – Ken  

I am excited to report that today, we have more proof that the global effort to eradicate malaria is working.

The World Malaria Report 2010, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), shows a 10-percent drop in global malaria deaths between 2008 and 2009; in more than 11 African countries, confirmed malaria cases and deaths have declined by almost 50 percent in recent years.

Until relatively recently, many believed that malaria could not be eradicated. Although preventable and treatable, this mosquito-borne illness today kills about 800,000 people a year  most of them pregnant women and children under five.

But in recent years, an unprecedented effort was mobilized against malaria. Included in that effort is the ExxonMobil Foundation’s Malaria Initiative, which makes strategic, targeted investments into malaria prevention and control.

We’re planning to announce in January that for 2011, the ExxonMobil Foundation will be awarding nearly $9 million in grants to 22 organizations involved in fighting malaria.

Work funded by these grants include research into malaria vaccines and treatments, training for medical staff in malaria-endemic countries, educating communities on practices for malaria prevention, and accelerated bed-net distribution.

Getting a handle on malaria will be essential to fighting poverty and raising living standards in many countries. That’s why over the past 10 years, ExxonMobil Foundation has contributed close to $80 million to the fight against malaria.

As WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, the results shown in today’s World Malaria Report are “the best seen in decades.”

Some highlights:

  • By the end of this year, 289 million mosquito nets will have reached families in sub-Saharan Africa since 2008.
  • Results are not limited to sub-Saharan Africa: In 32 of the 56 malaria-endemic countries outside Africa, there was a drop of more than 50 percent in malaria cases over the past decade, with downward trends in other countries, too.
  • Morocco and Turkmenistan were certified by the WHO in 2009 as having eliminated malaria.

But while much progress has been made, that progress is fragile and much work remains. The goal of the United Nations, and of everyone involved in the global fight against malaria, is to end deaths from this disease by 2015. To do that, we will need sustained momentum, continued collaboration and accelerated investment.

ExxonMobil Foundation will continue to work toward this goal, because we believe the entire global community benefits from gaining ground on malaria. I encourage everyone to read the full World Malaria Report 2010 to learn more.

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