By Gareth Thomas MP, Shadow Minister for Civil Society and Minister for International Development until 2010
Today, people around the world are marking World Malaria Day to celebrate the progress that has been made towards eradicating malaria, and to commemorate those who have lost their lives to the disease. Huge progress has been made in the last decade, with global cases of malaria falling by 26% in that time.
Under Tony Blair’s leadership, Britain helped to set up the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2002. Malaria is preventable and treatable, and the Department for International Development played a leading role under Labour in supporting the Global Fund’s vital work – distributing insecticide-treated nets to prevent the spread of malaria, and increasing the number of anti-malarial treatment courses available worldwide, from 11 million in 2005, to more than 170 million in 2010.
Sadly, this momentum is now under threat, as the Global Fund is struggling to cope with a funding shortfall. Britain currently chairs the Global Fund, and Andrew Mitchell should use this opportunity to persuade other donors to help plug the gap in funding. The theme for World Malaria Day this year is ‘Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria’, and it is vitally important that the momentum built up over the last decade is maintained, or there is a serious risk that the gains made will be lost.