Campaigners have urged increased public awareness about malaria and what needs to be done to reach “zero malaria deaths” globally by 2030. EU leaders are specifically asked to agree on an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this September at the United Nations General Assembly.
The campaign is led by “ONE Youth Ambassadors”, an initiative that empowers more than 250 young activists across Europe to carry out the fight against extreme poverty.
Veronika Józsa, a “ONE Youth Ambassador”, said, “This is all about raising awareness about malaria and involving the public in the fight against this deadly, yet preventable, disease. Half of the world’s population still lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission, and the disease is still the top killer of children under five.
“This is not an acceptable situation. As European citizens, we should ensure that our representatives tackle diseases such as malaria head-on.”
She told this website, “This year, world leaders have a momentous opportunity to commit to zero malaria deaths, within a larger package of targets which are designed to eradicate extreme poverty and end the epidemics of diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, by 2030.
“This opportunity cannot be overlooked as it has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of those in the poorest countries – where malaria and other deadly diseases hit hardest. We, as citizens, must push our representatives to do the right thing.”
The first Youth Ambassadors Programme was launched in 2014, and this year runs simultaneously in Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and Italy.
This year will see the world commit to a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, which are due to be unveiled in September.
These goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals and will set out the historic target of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Malaria is a tropical and potentially deadly disease caused by parasites and transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito.
Campaigners say that big increases in the resources available to combat it (such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) have had “great positive” health impacts: since the year 2000 malaria deaths have been halved.
However, in 2013 there were still an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide and 584,000 deaths. About 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where on average, a child dies of malaria nearly every minute of the day.
ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
By Martin Banks