Page last updated at 01:30 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 02:30 UK

Malaria battle given $3bn boost

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Gordon Brown, Bill Gates and U2's Bono at the summit

World leaders and philanthropistshave pledged nearly $3bn (1.6bn) to fight malaria at a summit in New York.

The meeting, at the UN, is looking at ways of meeting the Millennium Development Goals - 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.

Fighting malaria in southern Sudan

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).

Long-term effort

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.

The BBC's Heather Alexander says leaders are focusing on eradicating malaria to counter criticisms that the millennium targets will not be met.

If we build on this momentum, we can save million of lives and chart a long-term course for eradication of this disease
Bill Gates

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.

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.


SEE ALSO
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