SEATTLE — The President’s Malaria Initiative began with one objective: cut malaria-related mortality rates in half in 15 at-risk countries. Just 12 years after its founding, the initiative has made tremendous progress toward its goal and has since saved the lives of almost two million children, a new study reports.
President George W. Bush founded the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) in 2005. The organization’s funds, which the Bush and Obama administrations increased by $591 million in the last ten years, aid in malaria prevention and treatment in an ever-growing number of countries. What began as an effort to help Angola, Tanzania, and Uganda has become an initiative that spans 19 countries. Moreover, these countries are seeing results.
The Public Library of Science study, published in June, found that PMI’s efforts have saved 1.7 million children under five in the 19 African countries that it aids. To investigate the effects of PMI, researchers contrasted data from the PMI-supported countries with 13 non-supported ones.
Though malaria is a preventable and curable disease, it kills approximately 429,000 worldwide every year. PMI has been hard at work combating such statistics over the last decade, providing families with insecticide-treated mosquito nets, more accurate medical diagnoses, preventative treatment for pregnant women and other measures aimed at curtailing malaria mortality and morbidity rates.
In reducing malaria, PMI not only saves lives but also enhances them through educational and employment opportunities. Malaria is one of the main reasons children do not attend school and adults do not make it work in some countries, which can too often result in conditions of poverty and food insecurity.
Such results would not be possible without funding from taxpayers. A tiny percentage of the taxes Americans pay goes to health-related foreign aid; presently, a penny of every taxpayer’s dollar is appropriated for such purposes. Still, such aid can have a large impact, contrary to popular belief.
“The results [of the study]debunk one of the persistent myths of foreign aid: that it has no effect because more children survive each year anyway as economies improve,” reports Donald G. McNeil Jr. for The New York Times.
PMI used its past successes and failures to craft new strategies which it hopes to implement by 2020. These procedures will be carried out in the PMI-supported countries to meet PMI’s primary objectives for the 2015-2020 period, which include continually reducing the malaria-related mortality and morbidity rates.
Boldest of all, the organization aims to eradicate malaria by 2040-2050. With its unwavering support for its current malaria-reducing programs and its encouragement of new ones, PMI is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.
– Sabine Poux