UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has told policymakers and stakeholders that “health is the greatest wealth” during a Roll back malaria event in Brussels.
Ban was joined by African leaders to promote the importance of tackling malaria, particularly as the deadline for the millennium development goals (MDGs) approaches.
The South Korean official told attendees that “individual health can generate national wealth” and that “healthy communities create more vibrant, inclusive societies that allow people and economies to thrive”.
“Malaria clearly illustrates this. Since the [MDGs] were launched, we have seen proof that fighting malaria is a good investment that saves lives and speeds up economic progress.
“In a 12-year period, larger-scale malaria interventions saved 3.3 million lives – 90 percent of them children,” he explained.
Ban praised the international efforts as funding for malaria control reached $2.5 billion in 2012, but he added that although it is an “impressive number” it is, in reality, “only about half of the more than five billion dollars we need to reach all people”.
“Now is a critical time,” he continued, “We are fast approaching the 2015 deadline for reaching the MDGs. We are also looking beyond that year to shape our vision for the long-term development agenda.
“We can achieve great results by drawing on the valuable lessons we have learned – including the critical importance of keeping investments in health high on the international development agenda.
“We need to ensure that governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, and private sector contributors increase their levels of funding to support all needed efforts to address malaria around the world,” he finished.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, also spoke at the event saying, “Africa stands at a major crossroads as we leave behind death and despair and rally ourselves and our resources to improve the quality of lives for our communities.”
“We are all on this journey together and while we have overcome tremendous obstacles, more lie ahead in the work to improve the lives of people across Africa and the world.
“We must take up the unfinished business of ridding Africa of malaria, HIV and TB. If we redouble our efforts to the end of 2015 and commit to a shared post-2015 agenda, we will succeed,” she concluded.
President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique told the audience that, “Africa is the fastest developing continent in the world today.
“This is because we as African leaders, together with our people and development partners, are committed to turning the tables on scourges like malaria.”
He went on, “This century, we shall be reaping not only a demographic dividend, but a disease-free dividend; as our children’s lives are saved, their learning potential increases, labour market productivity levels rise, and both governments and households spend less on health, releasing more resources for development with the defeat of malaria.”
While John Dramani Mahama, the president of Ghana, argued that, “We need to dedicate more strategic funding towards the overall health of our people, and specifically towards the elimination of malaria.
“My government holds the firm beliefs that we must always put people first and also that healthy people make a healthy and prosperous nation. This is why a significant portion of our national budget is dedicated to health, but more funding is needed in this area.
“We need to dedicate more strategic funding towards the overall health of our people, and specifically towards the elimination of malaria,” he urged.
Written for www.theparliamentmagazine.eu