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Hope for beating killer diseases

Tuesday March 9th, 2010

The world can take real hope that the scourge of diseases such as malaria, HIV and TB may be neutralised within a few years, campaigners said yesterday.

Malaria could be eliminated as a "public health problem" within a decade in most countries, according to the Global Fund.

And within five years, very few babies will be contracting HIV from their mothers, it said.

Within the same timespan, rates of TB could be halved, it said.

The Global Fund is the organisation pumping billions of pounds raised from governments and private donors into the World Health Organisation's key objectives, working in parallel to the mega-rich Gates Foundation, funded by computer billionaire Bill Gates.

The Fund's annual report said its programmes were saving at least 3,600 lives a day last year.

Projects have targeted anti-HIV drugs towards pregnant women in poor countries alongside programmes to prevent transmission and supported HIV-infected children. The fund said these were now reaching 45 per cent of women at risk.

Some 104 million nets coated with insecticide were distributed last year to prevent malaria. The Fund said ten of the worst-hit countries in Africa have now seen child death rates falling by up to 80 per cent.

With new leadership in South Africa, efforts to prevent Aids and HIV have been stepped up - with nearly 200 million dollars spent in the country last year.

Professor Michel Kazatchkine, the fund's executive director, said: "We have made unprecedented progress but it is fragile.

"If we lose momentum now there will be a heavy price to pay. A failure to continue the scale-up of investments in health will betray the trust of millions."

* Meanwhile the World Health Organisation yesterday called for more efforts to improve the rights of women in many countries.

Director general Dr Margaret Chan said: "In many countries, women are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, "honour" killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility and early marriage among others, deny the right to health to women and girls and increase illness and death throughout the life-course."

She added: "We are convinced that educated, healthy and skilled adolescent girls will help build a better future. They will stay in school, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children and earn better incomes that will benefit themselves, their families, communities and nations."

Further discussion on International Women's Day

Tags: Africa | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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