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HEALTH: Renewed focus on "Rolling Back Malaria"

A meeting of the nascent Rolling Back Malaria campaign, a global initiative aimed at eradicating the disease, concluded in Nairobi on Thursday with reaffirmation of the need for a more
cooperative, coordinated and multi-sectoral approach.

"The aim is to try and mobilise partners for a more efficient and
effective approach to tackling malaria," Caroline Sergeant of the British Department for International Development (DFID), a partner organisation within RBM, told IRIN on Friday. "The idea is that it is also a movement for wider sectoral development."

"Mobilising partners and maintaining the commitment of countries is one of the key challenges of RBM in Africa", said Dr Rufaro Chataro, the World Health Organisation representative to Kenya. Rolling Back Malaria, in turn, provides an opportunity to sustain health sector reform processes, improve communities' ability to prevent and manage malaria, and "ensure the required flow of committed and expected resources", he added.

RBM will help countries' situation analysis and strategy development "to help identify the weakest elements in malaria control with a view to formulating plans for a more effective malaria control effort", Dr Chataro said.

Deaths due to malaria are estimated to be between 1.5 and 2.7 million annually, with 90 percent of the malaria burden in Africa, he told the meeting. The economic costs are also high, with direct and indirect costs more than US $2,000 million at the end of 1997, he added.

The RBM project was initiated by Dr Gro Harlem Bruntland, Director General of WHO, last year in order to mobilise partners and resources, and to put malaria higher on the international agenda. It is due to be officially launched in September 1999 following a series of similar inter-country consensus building meetings.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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