The Third International Conference on Financing for Development kicked off today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bringing together top-level officials and representatives to plan for the next 15 years of development under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A side event will convene global health stakeholders to present two global strategies in the fight against malaria and to discuss the disease’s impact on the broader development agenda.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which consisted of targets for addressing extreme poverty and ill health, lasted from 2000-2015 and were successful in reducing the prevalence of malaria around the world. According to the World Health Organization, malaria mortality rates have decreased by 47 percent worldwide since the ambitious goals were developed in 2000. That means that more than 4 million malaria-related deaths have been averted since 2001 – 97 percent of which would have been in children under five. Fewer people than ever before are getting infected with malaria, with many countries focusing on elimination of the disease as a potential target.
Whilst these are promising signs, more than half of the world’s population is still at risk of infection and a possible resurgence due to drug resistance threatens the progress made so far. The successor to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will usher in a new set of goals for the improvement of healthcare around the world. Under the SDG umbrella, two strategies will guide malaria control and elimination efforts – the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (GTS) 2016-2030 and the Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria (AIM) 2016-2030 – for a malaria-free world.
The GTS provides a comprehensive framework intended to allow countries to develop tailored programmes for accelerating towards elimination. It consists of three main elements: ensuring universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment; accelerating efforts towards elimination and attainment of malaria-free status; and strengthening malaria surveillance. It also emphasises the importance of research and innovation, political commitment, sustainable financing, strong health systems and continued cross-sectoral collaboration. Lastly, it helps malaria programmes to address serious threats to progress, such as artemisinin and insecticide resistance, weak health systems and inadequate human resources.
The AIM is the successor of the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP), advocating for investment in malaria as a ‘best buy’ for development. It illustrates how reducing and eliminating malaria creates healthier, more equitable and prosperous societies. It will guide financing of malaria elimination activities through the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, which includes governments, non-governmental organisations, foundations, private sector and civil society.
Malaria Consortium is committed to working within these two strategies, and will use its expertise to complement several key areas especially in regards to the three pillars of the GTS. We have already been doing this through our work to strengthen health systems and malaria control in Africa and Asia.
Specifically, our work within the three pillars includes:Ensuring universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment. We continue to work to ensure that many millions of people have access to and properly use long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) – one of the most effective methods of preventing malaria – in areas where they are needed most. In the Sahel region where seasonal rain brings greater malaria incidence, we are working to ensure that vulnerable children are protected with seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), an innovative intervention that provides preventive malaria treatment for all under-fives regardless of disease status. Our field-based diagnosis has increased dramatically, improving targeting of treatment. In terms of treatment, we help ensure availability of high quality artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and train community health workers to act as the first point of contact for ill children and caretakers – who are then able to diagnose and treat cases of malaria within the community. Accelerating towards elimination and attainment of malaria-free status. In Asia, we work with the governments of Thailand and Cambodia in developing strategies for elimination as well as partnering with the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network. Our drug resistance containment activities in Southeast Asia have informed global policy and best practice not only for containment but also for malaria elimination. In Africa, more countries are beginning to adopt an elimination mind-set as a result of successful interventions and malaria control programmes. Transforming malaria surveillance into a core intervention. As levels of transmission decline, surveillance of malaria cases becomes all the more crucial, especially in low-transmission areas or where drug resistance is present. Much of our work in Southeast Asia has focused on supporting strategies for the rapid elimination of malaria in areas where there are high levels of artemisinin resistance. Projects such as our Thai-Cambodia border surveillance project are critical for providing information about malaria for at-risk mobile populations and rapid responses to case detection. There is a great deal we still need to learn about malaria transmission in this and other regions if we are to drive forward effective elimination strategies, which is why we created our flagship surveillance project, Beyond Garki. This unique project’s long-term, intensive monitoring allows us to develop a comprehensive picture of the changes in epidemiology of malaria and what drives these changes, information which we feel is essential for appropriate decision-making for sustained impact.
To learn more about these global strategies, visit the links below:WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 Action and Investment to defeat Malaria 2016-2030 (AIM) – for a malaria-free world