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South African musician calls on Australian politicians to do more to end malaria

Last week, South Africa’s best-selling female artist, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, called on Australian politicians to do more to end the scourge of malaria in South-East Asia by 2015.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who has over 15 number one hits and 22 albums over 27 years, visited Liberal MPs Russell Matheson, Teresa Gambaro, and Bronwyn Bishop; Labor MPs Richard Marles, and Graham Perrett, including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop with volunteers from anti-poverty advocacy organisation RESULTS International (Australia) at Parliament House, Canberra on Monday, October 29.

Malaria, which is spread by mosquitos, kills approximately 40,000 people in the region and 700,000 worldwide each year. 86 per cent of malaria-related deaths in 2010 were of children under the age of five.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who is also the Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and UNICEF, called on Australia to make a bold pledge to support The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria to ensure it can continue its vital role in reducing malaria-related deaths in the region.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria is an international financing institution that is dedicated to ridding the world of the three diseases of poverty. So far it has helped supply over 270 million insecticide-treated malaria nets worldwide and has spent half a billion dollars to supply victims with lifesaving antimalarial drugs.

Her trip to Canberra coincides with Malaria 2012, an international health summit hosted by AusAID in Sydney on October 31 – November 1. The conference aims to accelerate progress towards the global target of a 75 per cent reduction in malaria cases and deaths in the Asia-Pacific by 2015. 

“It’s been amazing for me for the past six years working with The Global Fund; seeing the change and malaria-related deaths decrease. It just brings hope,” Yvonne said.

“I’ve seen the progress. I think it is very important that we have a fully funded Global Fund,” Yvonne continued. 

“The progress is there and lives have been saved. I don’t think that this is the time to put the brakes on or to stop,” she added.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka was also the special guest at ‘An Evening with a Princess’, which was co-hosted by RESULTS and UNICEF, where she sang in front of MPs and Senators.

“All the parliamentarians that I met were quite keen, interested and knowledgeable on the issue. I think we need to commend them for that and ask them to make sure Australia reaches its overseas aid target of 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2016.

“We also need to encourage other African governments to do more and to the donor countries that have made promises to keep their promise,” Yvonne said.

“Malaria has been eradicated in Australia, in the United States and the United Kingdom. Why can’t we eradicate it in Africa and South East-Asia?” Yvonne added.

From 2002 to 2010, the Global Fund estimates that the services it financed helped save more than 3 million lives.

“It can be done when people are educated, informed, and skilled in prevention methods for the disease,” she added.

“If the progress is there, the political will is there, and the funding is there, it can be done.”