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20 Oct, 2007 10:12

Russia joins fight against African malaria

Not content with writing off debt from poor countries, Russia is now helping to get rid of Malaria in Africa. It's committed $US 20 MLN to the task, after being approached by the World Bank.

“We are confident that this significant contribution will reduce malaria deaths and bring us closer to achieving our millennium development goals,” Dr. Brian Chituwa, Zambian Minister of Health, said.

Every year more than 500 MLN people around the world are infected with malaria. More than one million die annually, most of them children under the age of five. About 80 percent of these deaths occur in Africa.

Russia's contribution to the fight against malaria marks its growing role as an international donor.

“In the case of the World Bank's work with Russia, we talked about Russia's changing relationship given Russia's economic success. Given Russia's substantial financial assets, our work is now shifting toward technical assistance in various areas,” World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, explained. 

High oil prices have helped boost Russia's economy since the 1998 crisis.

Only a decade after defaulting on its debt, Russia has managed to pay back its own debts and write off those of some of the world's poorest countries.

Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin, says this latest contribution is the beginning of a broader cooperation with the World Bank.

“We talked about the future. We specifically discussed regional development of socio-economic strategies, infrastructure development, developing pension systems and environmental programs,” Mr Kudrin said.

Russia has written off $US 10 BLN of Afghanistan’s debt and plans to do the same for Iran this year.