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Leadership Interviews: Ten years of Roll Back Malaria
Looking back and looking forward in the global response to an ancient disease
Never before has the fight against malaria enjoyed such a groundswell of political and financial support. Since the launch of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership in 1998, advocates have succeeded in placing malaria high on political and development agendas; heads of state, business leaders, activists and artists have been championing malaria as their cause; new and innovative financing mechanisms have been created; and international funding against the disease has increased twenty-fold. With renewed political will and greater financial resources, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa have scaled up their coverage of malaria-control interventions, and have slashed numbers of malaria cases and deaths in just a matter of a few years.
The tenth year of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership has not only reaped results; it has also brought optimism and hitherto unmatched ambition in the response to this once-neglected disease. For the occasion of the first World Malaria Day in 2008, the UN Secretary General upped the stakes in the fight by calling for universal coverage of malaria control interventions by 2010; and at the end of this year, the first-ever comprehensive action plan, a collectively-developed blueprint for the control, elimination and eventual eradication of this disease, will guide and unify the malaria community in its efforts across the globe. Never has the bar in the international response to malaria been raised so high.
As ground is gained against malaria, a decennial milestone also approaches, offering Roll Back Malaria partners an opportunity to reflect upon the past and to look towards the future. To mark ten years of struggle and achievement, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat is publishing interviews with its partners. How has the international community turned the tide against an ancient disease? How do we ensure continued momentum against a killer that is stalling Africa's human and economic development, especially in the face of impending global environmental and economic crises? These conversations will reveal the vision and celebrate the achievements of those who, working in a multitude of different capacities from all parts of the globe, have made a difference against one of the world's major infectious diseases.
'Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right', said a famous turn-of-the-century business magnate. These interviews are meant not only to inform, but also to inspire and spark further action. The ten years of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership have shown that bold vision is key to success, and that malaria control provides rapid returns upon investment. The international community simply needs to decide, and this biblical scourge can be eliminated as a public health threat once and for all.