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Roll Back Malaria Progress & Impact Series

Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals

Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals
Photo © Christelle Thomas /
RBM Secretariat

A summary of key findings

Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals, the third report of the Roll Back Malaria Progress & Impact Series, analyses the impact of malaria control scale-up on child mortality over the last decade in 34 malariaendemic African countries. Using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST), the report demonstrates the dramatic progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goa l s (MDGs) relate to malaria and child survival - and the potential consequences of decreasing our commitment to fighting the disease.

Measuring progress, one life at a time
Measuring progress towards the MDGs is challenging in settings with limited resources where malaria and high rates of child mortality are common—particularly in Africa, where malaria causes 20% of all child deaths. Proven models, like the LiST model, can help estimate current and future progress, informing planning and strengthening responses to fight the disease.

First developed by the child health community, the LiST model generates data based on estimates and assumptions about each country's population and growth rate, mortality rate, cause-ofdeath patterns and estimates of coverage levels of child survival interventions. The LiST model allows users to set up and run multiple scenarios, providing a structured format to combine the best scientific information about effectiveness of interventions for maternal, neonatal, and child health with information about cause of death and current coverage of interventions. This enables program managers and Ministry of Health personnel to inform their work, helping to prioritize investments and evaluate existing programs. Over the last seven years, it has been refined to become a powerful tool in estimating the effectiveness of malaria control interventions on infant and child mortality.

As we approach the target set by African Heads of State in Abuja and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reach universal coverage of essential malaria interventions by December 31, 2010, we find that many countries are making excellent progress towards this goal. Use of the LiST model has demonstrated that malaria control efforts have already saved many lives: between 2001 and 2010, nearly threequarters of a million children (736 700) are estimated to have been saved, almost entirely due to intervention coverage (see Figure 1). The vast majority of these children were saved in the last five years—a period in which there was a dramatic increase in funding and political commitment to fight the disease. Now, in 2010, an estimated 485 children are saved every day from malaria-related death.

Maintaining success for greater impact
Only five years remains before the world's deadline to reach the ambitious MDGs and application of the LiST model demonstrates that, through sustaining or increasing commitments to malaria control, the number of lives saved from malaria could grow dramatically in just a few years. If malaria endemic countries are able to reach universal coverage with proven malaria control interventions like insecticidetreated mosquito nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), and intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) by the end of the year, nearly three million more children could be saved between 2011 and 2015. If current intervention coverage trends are maintained, but not increased, the lives of another 1.14 million African children could be saved.

Thus, this year marks a critical point in the fight for a world free from the burden of malaria.

Current progress is sustained through a fragile mix of funding political commitment and effective tools; should we lose momentum, nearly half of a million young children would die and our hardearned investments would be lost. Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals clearly shows that our highest priority should be focusing on quickly achieving and maintaining universal coverage - millions of children's lives depend on it.

Figure 1

FIGURE 1
Children's lives saved by malaria prevention scale-up from 2001–2010
The LiST model estimates that malaria prevention scale-up (IPTp, ITN, IRS) over the past decade, when compared with rates in the year 2000, has saved the lives of 736 700 children (uncertainty bound 483 600–1 021 800) in 34 African countries. There was minimal progress in the first five years of the decade when few resources were available. The biggest impact will be seen this year, with a projected 18% decrease in malaria child deaths from 2000 levels.

Related materials

Saving Lives with Malaria Control

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