Malaria is at the heart of the misery and economic devastation in Africa, taking the lives of more than 1 million people every year, most of them children under five years old. In some countries, this single disease is responsible for 60 percent of hospitalizations and 30 percent of hospital deaths. If those numbers indicate a large burden, consider, too, that most malaria cases don't even make it to a hospital.

U.S. President George Bush has pledged $US1.2 billion in new funding to cut deaths from malaria in Africa. This initiative can mark the beginning of a new era in the battle against this remarkably pervasive and persistent disease. As has been seen in other parts of the world, if malaria in Africa is addressed in a substantial, comprehensive, and consistent way, countless lives can be saved, and the continent will stand a better chance of developing to its full potential. Funds spent responding to the short, medium, and longer-term challenge of malaria will be funds well spent.

The upcoming G8 gathering of major industrialized nations will seek to address Africa's situation in a serious way. Leaders have called 2005 a make-or-break year. We agree. Now is the time to act to bring back a continent.

The global community must maximize use of available tools to reach African malaria control targets. Every child under the age of five and every pregnant woman should have an insecticide-treated net under which to sleep. Everyone with malaria should receive treatment with effective drugs. Where indoor residual spraying of insecticides is effective, it should be deployed. Using existing strategies will save lives now and catalyze a virtuous economic cycle that can help pull communities out of poverty.

President Bush's announcement is an important step forward. Such initiatives will help to turn around malaria-related misery in Africa. We also hope the US and other nations will increase their support for the development of new weapons we know will be needed to combat malaria into the future, such as vaccines, new drugs, and inexpensive diagnostics.

With 175 of every thousand children born in Sub-Saharan Africa dying before kindergarten, too many families are losing their children, and too many of those children are dying from malaria-at least three thousand every day. Full implementation of this new initiative in coordination with other national and multilateral efforts can reduce that number. We applaud it, and we hope that this additional funding will be fully, efficiently, and quickly implemented. These deaths are unconscionable and must not be tolerated.

PATH is an international, non-profit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. For more information, please visit path.

The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is a global program established through an initial grant of $50 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which later awarded it an additional $100 million. MVI's mission is to accelerate the development of promising malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility for the developing world, including supporting a clinical trial that proved to be one of the most significant advances in malaria vaccines in decades. For information, visit

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