Clegg to surprise UN with ambitious malaria pledge

By Peter Wozniak

The UK will halve the fatalities from malaria in the next five years in at least ten African countries, Nick Clegg will announce at a fringe meeting at the UN today.

The deputy prime minister will announce the policy as part of his appearance at the UN Millennium Development Goals summit, for which he will also make a speech later today.

“In Africa, a child dies from this disease – this easily preventable disease – every 45 seconds. So we will make more money available, and ensure that we get more for our money . . . with the aim of halving malaria-related deaths in ten of the worst affected countries”, he will say.

The Department for International Development (DfID) will fund the project, increasing spending on tackling the disease from the current £150 million a year, to up to £500 million by 2014.

International development secretary Andrew Mitchell, also representing the UK in New York, will elaborate on the proposals, commenting: “Tackling malaria will mean that millions of people, and especially children, will be saved from its crippling effects, enabling them to work, feed their families and send their children to school.

“Combating this disease is also one of the best investments money can buy – as little as £2 a year can be enough to save a child’s life.

“I will now be looking at all DfID’s programmes to see how we can build the prevention and treatment of malaria into everything we do.”

The chancellor George Osborne added his support to the proposals, saying that after “witnessing this terrible disease at first hand, I have been determined to do all I could to help the battle against malaria”.

He added: “I made the pledge then, that when we formed a government we would increase spending on malaria. Today we have honoured that pledge.”

According to DfID, malaria costs Africa $12 billion annually in treating the disease.