By United Nations
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31 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the success achieved by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) in saving thousands of lives across the continent, saying it offers a good model for tackling other social ills.

“The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is breaking down barriers, forging partnerships and getting supplies to families in record time,” Mr. Ban said in remarks at the ALMA event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the African Union.

“This is remarkable progress. We need to encourage it and use the response to malaria as a model for battling other illnesses and social ills,” he added.

Malaria kills almost one million Africans every year and affects over 200 million more, mostly pregnant women and children under five years of age, resulting in at least $12 billion of costs every year through lost development and opportunity.

Launched in September 2009 in New York, ALMA is a high-level forum set up to oversee the efficient procurement, distribution, and utilization of malaria control measures, with the aim of ending unnecessary deaths from the disease by 2015.

“This alliance against malaria is stopping the disease and saving thousands of lives. It is a great success story. You are bringing us closer to our Millennium Development Goal on malaria and showing how we can reach all the MDGs: with commitment at the highest level,” Mr. Ban stated, referring to the goal of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria by 2015.

Just last month, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) announced that malaria deaths declined by 10 per cent between 2008 and 2009. In 11 African countries, the disease's deadly toll has been cut by more than half since the year 2000.

“Just as malaria is carried by a mosquito that goes from person to person, so does our campaign seek to reach people just as directly,” said the Secretary-General. “We want to give every community health worker, every family, every child the tools and protection they need.

“We've delivered over 290 million nets to Africa since 2008. More nets and treatments are on their way. Universal coverage is not just a hope; it is within our reach.”

At today's event, the heads of State of Guinea, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania were presented with the 2011 ALMA Award for Excellence for their exemplary leadership in accelerating and sustaining access to malaria control and treatment commodities.

They are leaders of nations that have banned the importation and use of oral artemisinin-based monotherapies, which cause drug resistance that weakens the effectiveness of recommended malaria treatments, and that have removed tariffs on essential commodities used in the fight against malaria.

“All ALMA countries, by joining the Alliance, have demonstrated their commitment against malaria, and many have made important progress. The four recipients of the 2011 ALMA Award for Excellence have led the way with decisive actions to accelerate the saving of lives, and I commend their response,” said Ray Chambers, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria.

“Africa has never led a more unequivocal initiative against malaria, with the Secretary-General's deadline of ending malaria deaths by 2015 just five years away. Now is the time to overcome any barriers toward making that goal a reality,” he stated.