Defeating malaria in the U.S.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

As recently as the 1940s, malaria was a domestic health concern – and a lethal one. In parts of the Southern United States, malaria affected more than 30 percent of the population. In 1946, the Communicable Disease Center (now known as the U.S. Center for Disease Control or CDC) opened with a central mandate to eliminate the threat malaria posed to American families and American economic growth. By 1951, extensive partnership and mobilization between the U.S. Government, private foundations, scientists, health professionals, and local communities had dramatically reduced malaria in the United States.
 
That spirit of U.S. cooperation and action exists to this day -- on a global scale. Through bipartisan support for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Americans are bringing relief and hope to the 3.3 billion people worldwide who are still at risk for malaria.
 
The best part is that we’re doing it with safer tools, fewer costs, and greater impact than ever.
 
President’s Malaria Initiative: A global leader and partner

 
In 2005, President George W. Bush made a commitment to help push malaria into history. At the time, malaria killed nearly one million children annually in sub-Saharan Africa and cost the continent $30 billion in lost economic productivity. Cognizant of the health, security, and economic ripple effects of the crisis, President Bush established the President’s Malaria Initiative. Led by USAID and CDC, PMI aimed to reduce malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 19 African and Asian countries.
 
Seven years later, the results speak for themselves. Buoyed by ongoing support from President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Trump hits Romney for Mueller criticism Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' MORE and Congress, the fight against malaria is now one of global health’s most impressive success stories. In partnership with Population Services International (PSI), the Global Fund, UNICEF, Roll Back Malaria, Malaria No More, the World Bank, and other partners, PMI has helped cut malaria deaths by one-third on the African continent alone.
 
We can and must sustain this momentum.
 
Follow the need

 
With stretched resources it is important to invest in sustainable, cost-effective programs. U.S. action in malaria prevention and treatment meets that criterion.


Continued U.S. support for PMI and the Global Fund will help fill critical gaps, such as the need to maintain the recent gains in mosquito net coverage, scaled-up accurate malaria diagnosis capabilities, and effective anti-malaria treatments.
 
By sustaining its current financial and political commitments for malaria, the United States could help make “zero malaria deaths” the first great humanitarian achievement of the 21st century.
 
History has shown us what is possible. Let’s finish the job we started.

Rep. McDermott (D-Wash.) is a physician and a senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also a member of the Congressional Caucus on Malaria. Moore is the singer/actress and ambassador for PSI, a global health organization.