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African Leaders in Alliance to End Malaria Deaths on Continent By 2015

African leaders were to meet late Wednesday at the United Nations today to launch a new and ambitious drive to prevent any more deaths from malaria on the continent by 2015.

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance will promote the efficient procurement, distribution and use of materials and medicines to control and treat malaria, still a major killer of African children in particular, a statement issued in advance of the launch said.

Malaria affects at least 50 million pregnant women each year and claims the lives of more than a half million. Malaria consumes 40% of health budgets in affected countries, costing Africa an estimated US$12 billion a year, according to the United Nations.

Applauding the launch of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, or ALMA, U.N. Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers said tremendous benefits would be reaped by the program.

World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan said the initiative by the African heads of state is a critical step in the fight against malaria.

Zimbabwean Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such an initiative could save millions of lives.

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