EU must 'mobilise efforts' to tackle malaria

Exchanges must be strengthened between the EU and malaria-prone countries in order to establish a coherent global strategy, argues Maurice Ponga

By Maurice Ponga

14 Apr 2014

On 25 April we will celebrate world malaria day, to mark the fight against this disease. This day is an important event and will provide an opportunity for reviewing the progress made and for emphasising those efforts that we still need to make in order to eradicate the disease. Indeed, although some progress has been achieved, with over 3.3 million lives saved since the year 2000, the current position is still dramatic: every minute, one child in Africa dies from malaria. This is why we must continue to act and mobilise our efforts.

The European Union is a major contributor on a world scale in this battle against malaria. In fact, the European commission and the member states contribute almost one quarter (22 per cent) of worldwide investments into research targeted against poverty related diseases, and almost half of the contributions to the global fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. The European Union is also supporting a number of countries within the framework of its cooperation policies via the European development fund and the development cooperation instrument in the battle against malaria, in accordance with the priorities and strategies established by the partner countries.

As rapporteur for parliament's development commission, I was able to participate in the development of the new European and developing countries clinical trials partnership II (EDCTP II) programme, which establishes a partnership between the European countries, and for the development of clinical trials. This instrument is participating in the battle against malaria. With a budget of €649m, supplemented by contributions in kind or in cash from the participating states, EDCTP II represents a concrete embodiment of the commitment of the European Union and its member states to identify new treatments for poverty-related diseases, and particularly for malaria.

"The European commission and the member states contribute almost one quarter (22 per cent) of worldwide investments into research targeted against poverty related diseases"

In the new EDCTP II programme, the synergies between the different actions being carried out by the European Union in the form of development policy or research policy have been enhanced. Moreover, the 'political' dimension of this battle against malaria and poverty-related diseases has been reinforced. Indeed, I wanted a high-level political dialogue to take place between the EU and developing countries regarding poverty-related diseases and other neglected illnesses. Thus, the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP) /EU joint parliamentary assembly will in future serve as a platform for discussions on the efforts made by the ACP countries for containing malaria, and regarding the research carried out, particularly in Europe, in order to develop new products.

In my opinion, it is necessary that exchanges be strengthened between the European Union and the countries affected by malaria as the key players, in order to establish a coherent global strategy. A number of tools already exist concerning research, health, development and even humanitarian aid at the European and even at the world level. Moreover, there are many organisations at work, like states, foundations, non-governmental organisations, and civil society. Therefore, we must all act in a concerted and coordinated manner so that future generations are no longer afflicted by this disease.

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