US entrepreneur to head UN campaign against malaria

February 15th, 2008 - 11:54 am ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 15 (DPA) Ray Chambers, a US entrepreneur, was appointed as the first UN special envoy for malaria tasked with bringing the number of deaths from the disease to zero within five years. Chambers was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Thursday upon recommendation by Margaret Chan, the executive director of the World Health Organisation.

The UN has had envoys for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, but not malaria, which kill 3,000 children a day in Africa alone with an estimated 500 million people infected each year.

“I am fairly optimistic,” Chambers said of the goal to cut the death rates to zero in two to five years. Eliminating malaria deaths by 2015 is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The UN and WHO said malaria kills an estimated one million people per year worldwide. But worldwide efforts, both in the public and private sectors, and the medical and scientific communities, have developed ways to fight the mosquito-borne disease in tropical areas.

Chambers said one of the biggest successes in fighting malaria has been bed nets and long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets to protect against the insect bites that spread the disease. He said the anti-malaria campaign would need $8-10 billion in the next five years.

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