Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks at breakfast event to launch the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria

Sep 24, 2013

Remarks for Rebeca Grynspan
UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator at
Breakfast event to launch the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria
UN Secretariat, New York

Your Excellences President Armando Guebuza and President Jakaya Kikwete, two leading global advocates in the fight against malaria;

Minister Bonino;

Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore with whom we have the great pleasure of hosting this event;

Excellencies, distinguished panellists, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you this morning to the launch of the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria. I am especially pleased that the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and UNDP have worked together to take this important initiative forward, working closely with our sister agencies, and national and international partners.   

In our current resource-constrained environment, countries and international organizations are increasingly prioritizing interventions and targeting efforts to become even more efficient and accountable. While doing so, we must not lose sight of the importance of addressing both the direct and the structural causes of health and development outcomes.

We all know the importance of working in a multi-disciplinary, inter-sectoral manner. Development challenges like malaria are not simple issues. Their complexity has resulted in their durability. While we have achieved important successes in tackling malaria, we cannot underestimate the need for a holistic approach that addresses the broader social determinants. Malaria has taught us this again and again.

We have gone a long way in implementing large scale initiatives to distribute long-lasting insecticide bed-nets and to make effective medicines available to those who need them. These activities are absolutely essential – they save lives and are fundamental to meeting our goal of eradicating malaria. But alone, they will not be enough.

Since 2000, increased global investment in malaria control has saved more than 1 million lives. However, the funding currently available is only half of the US$ 5.1 billion needed annually to achieve universal access to malaria interventions.
This investment is not only the right way to go but the smart thing to do if we think that, only in the case of Africa,  Malaria related illnesses and mortality cost the continent's economy USD 12 billion a year!

Malaria is a disease associated with lack of socio-economic development, poverty, marginalization and exploitation. Each of these dimensions has roots beyond the health sector.

Malaria’s linkage to development – which has been illustrated over the last two centuries – shows that great gains can be made when people’s general living standards improve (like better housing conditions) ,  with advances in agricultural practices and food security, with fewer instances of standing water and breeding sites for mosquitoes, and with a better management of natural resources. We also know that climate change influences the distribution of malaria endemicity. Another reason to make the sustainable development goals and the post MDGs framework a priority for the post 2015 development agenda.

Let me identify malaria’s link to just one human development issue, as a way to illustrate the multifaceted causes and consequences of the disease.

My example is gender inequality, which not only affects women’s vulnerability to malaria, but also exposes inequalities in decision-making power, and in access to treatment and care. Women bear an overall disproportionate burden of malaria.  This is partly because they are sometimes more susceptible, such as during pregnancy – for example, malaria is estimated to cause up to 11% of maternal deaths in Nigeria. At other times, a household division of labour can put women at increased risk of exposure to mosquitoes – for example, in the case of urban agriculture in many endemic countries in Africa. And when men or children get affected, women ultimately pay a price by taking on extra care and domestic work for their family’s survival.  Imaging how much is this true when thinking that there are 210 million cases of malaria annually!

Factors that mitigate gender discrimination also help to tackle malaria. For example, studies show that when women have a cash income in a household, that household is more likely to own bed nets and use malaria prevention methods. Women are thus both important beneficiaries of malaria programming, and key players and actors in the prevention and control of malaria.

The Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria identifies a range of similar synergies between health and other sectors, and makes a clear case for re-structuring the way countries address malaria. The Framework should be integral to new strategies against malaria, including the new Global Malaria Action Plan; the ongoing and essential work of the Global Fund; and the response to health within the post-2015 development agenda.

I am proud to say that through our partnership with the Global Fund, UNDP has worked with national stakeholders to treat 40 million cases of malaria and distribute 12.5 million bed nets since 2003 – including in countries such as Angola, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This important partnership has helped countries such as Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan  to enter a malaria elimination phase.
I hope today’s discussion will help to inspire health and development actors to work together to achieve our common goals through even stronger partnerships with private sector, research institutions, NGOs, civil society and community based organizations, member states and the UN system.

Thank you.

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