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World Bank Announces Plan to Improve Anti-Malaria Efforts

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Bank has announced a new plan to help fight malaria. The international lender says the fight against the disease has been too slow and uneven.

The goal is to expand access to anti-malarial drugs and preventions such as bed nets treated with chemicals that kill mosquitoes. Those insects spread the organism that causes an estimated five hundred million cases of malaria each year. Most are in southern Africa. The disease is getting more difficult to fight as the organism develops resistance to traditional treatments.

The new Global Strategy and Booster Program announced by the World Bank will include a special committee. Its job will be to make sure that anti-malaria efforts are part of lending programs.

World Bank officials estimate that five hundred million to one thousand million dollars in spending is possible over the next five years. The announcement took place on April twenty-fourth, Africa Malaria Day.

The World Health Organization says malaria kills more than one million people a year. Most of the victims are children under the age of five. Pregnant women are also at greater risk from the disease.

Africa pays a huge economic price for malaria. The W.H.O says the disease costs Africa about twelve thousand million dollars a year in lost productivity. The health agency says malaria has slowed development on the continent.

The new program announced by the World Bank also will increase help to other areas affected by malaria. Southeast Asia has the second highest death rate from the disease. About eight percent of malaria deaths happen in that part of the world.

Jean-Louis Sarbib is a top official at the World Bank. He calls the new plan "good for reducing human suffering and good for economic growth." When adults get sick, they have to stop working. Mister Sarbib points out that when children and teachers become infected, education also suffers as a result of malaria.

World Bank officials say they are building on lessons learned from malaria control programs in Brazil, Eritrea, India and Vietnam. Mister Sarbib says much progress has been in some places, but efforts have been slower and more limited than expected.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals aim to reduce deaths among children and pregnant women. Malaria control is one way to do that.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I'm Gwen Outen.