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Six Experts, Six Answers

Six Experts, Six Answers

How do we maintain the recent momentum in the fight against malaria?

Suprotik BasuWe must treat goals, such as the UN Millennium Development Goals, as deadlines, not as so many UN targets that come and go. We’re on track to meet our December 31, 2010, goal of universal bed net coverage—that’s 350 million nets—in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks in part to the clear business plans and roadmaps that malaria-endemic countries developed. We’re talking about countries like Nigeria, which had around 2 percent bed net coverage just a few years back, and now has 65 million nets to cover 130 million people. To get there, almost $3 billion was raised in less than a year. Three years ago, before the Secretary-General set a 2010 deadline, none of that money existed.

We’ve worked with heads of state and heads of international organizations, along with leaders in the private sector, and we have also used branding, marketing and innovative use of social media to keep malaria on the public’s radar screen. For instance, there was a special episode of American Idol last year, “Idol Gives Back,” that raised over $30 million in an hour. It shows great buy-in and awareness in the U.S. of a disease that doesn’t affect anyone in this country. Our 50 “social media envoys” are exciting “opinion leaders,” with at least a million followers each on Twitter.

But sprints are one thing, and marathons are another. Bed nets become ineffective and have to be replaced every three years; that’s how fragile the success is. We’re already seeing malaria rebound in a few countries where we had scored successes against the disease. Not one of these gains can be sustained unless African leaders take ownership of and responsibility for this effort, which is increasingly happening. I’m confident we’ll win the marathon. Many people didn’t think we’d get this far—we can’t let these gains go to waste, not again.

Suprotik Basu, MHS ’02, is managing director of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria.


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  • Dr. C. Nagaraj

    Bangalore, India 02/08/2011 10:47:20 PM

    I wish to inform you that already resistance of Pf has occurred and I have detected resistant Pf from Karnataka, Maharastra and Orissa in India - resistant to ACT (Artisunate +SP) by therapeutic efficacy method (in vivo). I can send my findings to you if are interested. I have lot of interesting findings which I wish to discuss - gametocyte increase after ACT, side effects of ACT, etc.

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