Feingold, Wicker Launch Senate Working Group On Malaria

August 6, 2009

Washington – Today, U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) launched the first-ever Senate Working Group on Malaria to help raise awareness and support for efforts to combat the disease that claims more than one million lives each year.  The bipartisan Senate Working Group will work to expand and improve U.S. leadership in the fight against malaria and will share information to combat the disease with other working groups on malaria around the world.  Joining Feingold and Wicker are Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Arlen Specter (D-PA).           
“I am proud that the United States, through the President’s Malaria Initiative created by former President Bush, has been a global leader in reducing deaths from malaria,” said Feingold, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.  “But despite being a preventable disease, it continues to ravage parts of Africa and Asia.  By working with the Obama administration, the Senate Working Group on Malaria can build upon and improve efforts to combat this disease and bring an end to malaria deaths once and for all.”

“With recognition of the great strides that have already been made against malaria, it is my hope that this working group will provide the focus in the Senate to press toward an eventual eradication of this preventable disease.  I appreciate the opportunity to join with Senator Feingold, a true leader in the fight against malaria, in starting this group,” said Wicker, co-chair of the Senate Working Group on Malaria.

Even though malaria is completely preventable and treatable, more than 40 percent of the world’s population is still at risk of contracting the disease.  According to the World Health Organization, a child dies every thirty seconds from malaria and nearly 90 percent of those deaths occur in Africa.  Over the last decade, robust and targeted health assistance has been successful in preventing and treating malaria.  In some places, such as the island of Zanzibar or the country of Rwanda, malaria prevalence has dropped significantly in just a few years with targeted health assistance.  The bipartisan Senate Working Group on Malaria will look for ways the United States can work with international partners to ensure that these preventable measures reach other countries around the world.   

The formation of the Senate Working Group on Malaria follows a bipartisan resolution passed by the Senate in April that supported the goals of World Malaria Day and reaffirmed the United States’ leadership to combat malaria.