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Princess Astrid of Belgium raises awareness on malaria fight

12 April 2012

HRH Princess Astrid with Mr Wong Ngit Liong, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees at the NUS Greater Good Series event

Malaria kills nearly 700,000 people a year worldwide, including one child every minute. The fight against malaria is one of the key Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations (UN) because the disease can be completely prevented and treated.

Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Astrid of Belgium, Special Representative to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (UN's body for the global fight against malaria), gave the opening address at the NUS Greater Good Series on 11 April as part of her Singapore visit to raise awareness on the issue.

HRH Princess Astrid highlighted that a major threat to sustained malaria control and elimination is the growing resistance to the most effective course of malaria treatment - artemisinin-combination therapies. The worrying trend is happening in certain areas of the Asia-Pacific region, which is becoming the historical epicentre for the emergence of drug-resistant malaria parasites. Asia now accounts for the second highest malaria burden after Africa.

She urged continued national investment and regional leadership in global malaria control efforts. She was impressed by the work being conducted at NUS to provide a better understanding of the disease, and expressed hope that it will lead to methods for combatting malaria.

NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye said that scientists leading the research at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine include Assoc Prof Kevin Tan, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Parasitology at the Department of Microbiology and Assoc Prof Dale Fisher, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

"Like Roll Back Malaria's mandate, their research recognises the need to scale up for greater impact of preventive and therapeutic interventions. Specifically, their work will allow existing malaria drugs to be used in new and more effective ways and also provide innovative tools for accelerating anti-malarial drug discovery," said Prof Tan.

The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy with the aim to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society.