Statement by Minister Fantino: World Malaria Day

April 25, 2013

Malaria devastates families, communities, and local economies. Malaria is unforgiving, especially for children in remote areas or where basic health care is scarce. Left untreated, the disease can lead to death within 24–48 hours, which is often too short a time for an affected person in an isolated and/or underserviced region to reach a clinic or hospital.

Much of the battle against malaria must therefore be fought through prevention and by providing effective treatment locally. Community-based treatment initiatives include the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets—an area where Canada has long been a world leader.

Canada has been focusing its efforts on improving access to malaria treatment for the poor. More broadly, as part of its global commitment to improve Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Canada is working to build the capacity of front-line community health workers to identify and treat the main causes of death among children under the age of five: malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

As a leader among worldwide efforts to treat malaria and other childhood diseases, Canada is proud to partner with experienced Canadian and international organizations to prevent and treat malaria:

  • Canada is a strong supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has distributed 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets to families with young children since its inception. These efforts, supported by Canada, have saved an estimated 8.7 million lives from these three diseases.
  • Canada has helped to improve the capacity of 53,000 front-line health workers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, and Niger to diagnose and treat malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea.
  • Likewise, Canadian support has helped to train 7,700 community health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia to provide essential health services to combat pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea. This project targets the poorest fifth of the population in areas where child and maternal deaths are high.

Although Canada has contributed greatly to the fight against malaria, we must also acknowledge how far there is to go. The disease continues to cause 660,000 deaths each year. Malaria remains one of the major causes of death for children in developing countries, and every year approximately 540,000 children die of malaria in Africa alone.

We look forward to working with our partners and affected communities to bring malaria’s dark chapter in human history to a close.

Julian Fantino
Minister of International Cooperation