Malaria was eradicated in the United States more than a half century ago. Because it no longer affects us, many Americans may be unaware of the degree to which the disease currently haunts parts of the rest of the planet. The sad truth is that even in 2014, malaria threatens the lives of nearly half of the people on earth.
The statistics are arresting. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria killed 627,000 people in 2012, the overwhelming majority in sub-Saharan Africa. It afflicts over 200 million more. One child dies nearly every minute of the day, on average, from malaria.
The disease devastates lives and families. Added together, the numbers represent an economic tragedy in countries afflicted by malaria. A World Economic Forum report suggests the impact can reduce the GDP of nations ravaged by malaria by as much as 6 percent.
But there is hope of reversing this tragic tide. So writes ExxonMobil Foundation President Suzanne McCarron in an op-ed distributed by Thomson Reuters marking World Malaria Day.
Suzanne points to some real successes. “As a result of scaling up prevention and treatment efforts, malaria deaths have fallen by 45 percent worldwide since 2000,” she writes.
These efforts are the result of pioneering relationships the private sector has forged with governments and the global malaria community. ExxonMobil is proud to be playing a role in this success, having contributed more than $120 million since 2000 to support innovative anti-malaria programs. Many other companies have contributed as well.
Such efforts are not just saving lives, they are helping change the trajectory of entire nations. “Eight African countries are on track to meet the WHO 2015 goal of reducing their malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent,” Suzanne notes. “This progress is creating ripple effects in these countries and across the continent.”
On this World Malaria Day, let’s build on the successes of the past decade and enable a healthy future for generations to come in Africa and Asia.