The Solomon Islands government has welcomed an initiative to eliminate Malaria from the country.

Deputy Prime Minister, Fred Fono, had announced the Government's appreciation following a meeting with renowned public health figure, Professor Richard Feachem Friday last week.

Professor Feachem, Chair of an Australian-supported Malaria Reference Group was visiting Solomon Island to review progress on malaria elimination efforts in Solomon Islands.

Sir Richard is a former head of the Global Fund to fight HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

Mr. Fono said malaria is a major health challenge that the government through health authorities have struggled to eliminate over the years.

Mr. Fono said it is pleasing that Solomon Islands is a leading member of a new regional network to eliminate malaria which was launched in Australia last week.

The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) brings together 10 countries in the region which have committed themselves to eliminating malaria from within their borders.

Mr. Fono said getting rid of the killer disease will bring huge benefits not only to people but also to other productive sectors such as the tourism industry.

"A country free of malaria is a healthy nation because people will only enjoy an environment that is healthy," he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the biggest fear among many expatriates working and visiting Solomon Islands is Malaria and getting rid of it will make the country more safe and attractive.

Sir Richard has indicated a positive start for the program in Solomon Islands.

He said officials in the country has already set challenging goals to tackle malaria.

These include ending malaria related deaths and reducing the parasite incidence by 65% and also aim to eliminate malaria in Temotu Province by 2014 and then progressively in all other provinces to create a malaria free Solomon Islands.
Australia has committed A$14 million from 2007 to 2011 to assist Solomon Islands to implement the Malaria Action Plan.

Financial support towards the program has also been made available by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), WHO and the Global Fund.

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