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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Fighting Malaria, Part 1 - 2004-07-25

Broadcast: July 26, 2004

This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

There was a lot of talk at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok about the Global Fund that finds money to fight AIDS. But that is not all it does. The full name is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This organization was created in two-thousand-one to find more money to attack all three of these deadly diseases.

The Global Fund has offices in Geneva. But it does not have its own programs. It gives money to finance local efforts. Member countries of the Global Fund have agreed to spend more than five thousand million dollars through two-thousand-eight.

Because of this support, there is now two times as much money to fight malaria as there was two years ago. Malaria kills more than one million people each year. Almost half of all people in the world live in countries where malaria is found. But ninety percent of the deaths are in Africa, mostly in children under five years old.

Pregnant women are also at high risk. So are refugees. They often have little or no protection against the mosquitoes that spread malaria. Aid officials worry about the situation for the refugees from the Darfur area in western Sudan. Seasonal rains have begun. That will mean more mosquitoes. These insects lay their eggs in water.

Many countries, though, have success stories to tell about their efforts to fight malaria. These include Malawi, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia.

Progress often comes with the use of new medicines called artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACT. Older medicines like chloroquine no longer cure many people with malaria. These medicines have been used for such a long time that the malaria parasite resists them.

ACT mixes several medicines. Health officials say it is now the best way to fight malaria. But ACT costs about two dollars per treatment. That is a lot of money compared to the older medicines, which cost about ten cents.

Last week, the United States Institute of Medicine called for a program to help pay for these new medicines. The proposed fund would seek as much as five hundred million dollars per year. This would come from rich countries and international aid organizations.

Next week, learn what some countries are doing to fight malaria. This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Karen Leggett. This is Robert Cohen.