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Top leaders seek to eradicate malaria by 2015

World leaders and philanthropists, including US president George Bush, UK premier Gordon Brown and Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, earlier this year pledged nearly $3bn (£1.6bn) to fight malaria at a summit in New York.

At a meeting in the United Nations in September 2008 leaders sought to find the best way to meet the Millenium targets on reducing global poverty by the year 2015. Donors hope the money will be enough to eradicate malaria by that time.

The money includes $1.1bn (£598m) from the World Bank and $1.6bn (£870m) from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The British government and private organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have promised the rest. Malaria still kills more than a million people each year, according to the World Health Organization.

The funding, will be used to support rapid implementation of the first ever Global Malaria Action Plan (GMap).

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined the presidents of Rwanda and Tanzania as well as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reassure the world that their goal is achievable.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in a statement that the extra money would help "sharply reduce the numbers of malaria-related deaths and illness" in the next three years. According to Gmap's projections, more than 4.2 million lives can be saved between 2008 and 2015, if its plan is put into action, and the foundation can be laid for a longer-term effort to eradicate the disease.

Alongside the offers of money came reassurance from African leaders that efforts are working. President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, said malaria deaths have fallen by more than 60% in his country. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to provide $168.7m (£91m) to fund a Malaria Vaccine Initiative for research on a new generation of anti-malaria vaccines.

Microsoft founder Mr Gates said: "We need innovation, new drugs, and the most dramatic thing we need is vaccine. "If we build on this momentum, we can save million of lives and chart a long-term course for eradication of this disease."

Britain's Department for International Development pledged £40m ($73.5m) to support the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria. It also pledged to increase its malaria research funding to at least £5m ($9.1m) a year by 2010 and supply 20 million of the 125 million bed nets still needed in affected areas.

In Madagascar the government, the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, UNICEF and the Global Fund have agreed to develop and to utilise a single brand of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets that will be distributed primarily through Population Services International.

In an effort to reduce Madagascan malaria-related mortality by 20 percent and morbidity by 30 percent among pregnant women and children, Population Services International will scale-up its social marketing of insecticide- treated nets to control the mosquito that carries the parasite.

Global Fund financing has been the catalyst for a national consensus under the Roll Back Malaria partnership. In addition, Population Services International will launch an information campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of insecticide- treated nets and to increase demand for these products.

Insecticide-treated nets will sell for approximately US$2.30, reduced from a previous price of nearly US$10 per net.

The profits will be rolled into a subsidy to enable some nets to be distributed free of charge to those who cannot afford to purchase them. With a target of purchasing and distributing 250,000 insecticide-treated nets over a two-year period, Population Services International, working with other non-governmental distributors, has begun implementing the programme with an initial disbursement of almost US$600,000 from the Global Fund.