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Press releases 2009

Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium renews commitment to Roll Back Malaria until 2010

Press release 13.03.2009

Brussels/Geneva, 13 March 2009: Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Astrid of Belgium announced her commitment to continue as Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) Special Representative and scale up her activities to support the global fight against malaria--one of the world's three major killer diseases.

HRH Princess Astrid has been engaged as RBM Special Representative for two years and has visited countries in Africa to highlight progress in the malaria battle as well as research centres, malaria treatment and vaccine manufacturing companies in Europe.

In September 2007 she joined the Executive Director of the RBM Partnership, Prof Awa Marie Coll-Seck on a five day tour of Tanzania to spotlight the country's solid achievements in malaria control and visit net producers and research institutions in the country.

In 2008 she took part in the very first World Malaria Day commemorations in Zambia with Vice President Rupiah Banda and Ministers of Health from all the 14 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). On this occasion she also briefly joined the crew of the Zambezi Expedition in Livingstone, who were on a 2,000 mile journey down the Zambezi to highlight the need for cross-border collaboration in the region and improved access to remote communities in five countries.

"In my capacity as RBM Special Representative I was able to witness the devastation that malaria can cause - but also the tremendous work that is under-way by a vast number of committed partners," stated HRH Princess Astrid. "It is important that the current economic crisis does not derail the momentous progress made to date. I am full of expectation and hope that many countries will continue to experience significant gains over the next two years - and the number of deaths will come down dramatically."

Every year, malaria kills between 1 and 3 million people and infects 300-500 million. Malaria is the leading cause of death among sub-Saharan African children under the age of five. In addition to its human toll, malaria costs Africa US $ 12 billion per year and up to 40% of government health spending.

"We are delighted that Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid will continue to Represent the Partnership and champion efforts to defeat malaria worldwide", said Prof. Coll-Seck, RBM Partnership Executive Director. "Her tireless work over the last two years have helped to raise awareness on a global scale. The next two years are critical to the fight against malaria as we promote the implementation of the Global Malaria Action Plan and countdown to the 2010 goals of universal coverage with all interventions."

HRH Princess Astrid's first engagements as Special Representative in 2009 will include visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in late March and participation in World Malaria Day activities on April 25th.

HRH Princess Astrid has a keen interest in health and global humanitarian issues. She was President of the Belgian Red Cross from 1994 till 2007 and is Honorary President of the Queen Elisabeth Medical Foundation and of the European Organization on Research and Treatment of Cancer. HRH Princess Astrid was also honoured with an award for her commitment to malaria from the Malaria Foundation in Atlanta USA.

RBM Special Representatives are prominent individuals who use their profile and international renown to help move the malaria response forward. Rolling back malaria is key to achieving six out of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

About the RBM Global Partnership
The RBM Global Partnership is the global framework to implement coordinated action against malaria. It mobilizes for action and resources and forges consensus among Partners. The Partnership is comprised of hundreds of partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.

The Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP), developed by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, is the first-ever single comprehensive blueprint for global malaria control and elimination. It outlines strategies, costs, goals and timelines designed to build on the trajectory of recent successes in malaria control, moving towards full malaria control and beyond in countries across the globe. Heads of state and government, major agencies and private sector representatives, faith and civil society leaders have united behind this plan to ensure full coverage of malaria interventions by 2010 and to achieve near zero preventable malaria deaths by 2015 as a major step towards ultimately eradicating malaria.

Contacts
Hervé Verhoosel - New York
Mobile :+1 917 345 5238
Direct : +1 212 963 6003
Email: verhoosel@un.org

Pru Smith - Geneva
Mobile: +41 79 477 1744
Direct: +41 22 791 4586
Email: smithp@who.int