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World Malaria Day 2010 Commemorated by Progress Report and Social Media Initiative

Thursday, April 22, 2010 General News J E 4
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NEW YORK, April 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Fund for UNICEF today announced that in commemoration of World Malaria Day 2010 (April 25th), it will be partnering with a unique social media initiative anchored on Twitter and Facebook and meant to mobilize action toward achieving the United Nations' (UN) goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions by the end of 2010.

Additionally, UNICEF and the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership will continue to highlight the findings from a report released earlier this week titled, World Malaria Day 2010: Africa Update, which paints a positive picture of progress in the control of malaria in Africa.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the world's malaria control activities, with over 90 percent of malaria deaths occurring on the continent.

Initiated by the UN's Special Envoy for Malaria, the social media initiative centers on the efforts of a specially selected collection of "influencers" dubbed the Social Media Envoy group.

These Social Media Envoys are personalities that run the gamut from Queen Rania of Jordan to rock musician, Pete Wentz.  The group, totaling 50, have agreed to take one social action, such as a tweet on Twitter or wall post on Facebook, in support of malaria control each month for 12 consecutive months.

Individuals interacting within these dynamic social media spaces will be asked to support the movement to end malaria deaths by donating funds to UNICEF through the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.  The first organized social action from this group will take place on World Malaria Day, April 25, 2010.

"It's difficult to imagine that 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like malaria—but it is in fact a reality," said Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF.  "Progress is being made on combating this killer disease in Africa but so much more needs to be done.  I'm confident that engaging individuals through social media is one very powerful way to elevate the profile of this disease and provide a real outlet for action."    

The report released this week is the second in a series of RBM Progress & Impact reports, the update highlights that progress in Africa is on an upward and accelerated trajectory—with the period from 2004 to 2009 showing a 10-fold increase in global malaria funding from external forces to nearly $1.8 billion in 2009, a five-fold increase in global production of insecticide-treated nets to 150 million, and over a 30-fold increase in the procurement of anti-malarial drug combinations (aka ACTs—artemisinin-based combination therapies) to 160 million.

Most of the funding that has been allocated globally to combat malaria is directed at Africa.  The new report highlights that while total annual global funding reached approximately USD$ 2 billion by the end of 2009, malaria funding still falls short of the estimated USD$ 6 billion required annually by the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) to ensure universal coverage of malaria control interventions.  

"The energy and influence generated by these Social Media Envoys will spur the public to action and, over the course of a year, help fill the gap in funding that's so desperately needed," said Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria.

For more information about the social media initiative please visit: www.facebook.com/MalariaEnvoy, or to make a $10 mobile donation text NETS to 864233 (UNICEF).

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress—the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 24,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF

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