This article was originally published on Politics Home.
With drug-resistant malaria spreading in Southeast Asia, Malaria Consortium calls for the international community to accelerate efforts to eliminate the disease.
Progress in the fight against malaria has been one of the crowning achievements of the Millennium Development Goals era. The World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2014, launched in Parliament this past Tuesday, estimates that deaths caused by malaria have fallen by an impressive 47 percent globally between 2000 and 2013. This amounts to 4.3 million lives saved in this time.
However, this remarkable progress, which has been achieved through the huge scaling up of international resources, is now under threat. In the Greater Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia, the parasite which causes malaria has started to develop resistance to artemisinin, the key ingredient in our most effective treatment against the disease. Despite efforts to contain drug-resistant malaria, it is spreading through this region in a manner similar to the emergence of resistance to previously effective medicines. This is why it is imperative that we act now and accelerate to malaria elimination in the region. We know from past experience the disastrous effects losing our most effective antimalarial drugs can have on our efforts to control malaria. The impact could be especially devastating in Africa, where the burden of the disease and potential for a huge increase in mortality, is highest.
To tackle drug-resistant malaria we need an immediate, coordinated response from regional and international governments to help achieve elimination of the disease altogether. New global technical and advocacy strategies, coordinated by WHO and Roll Back Malaria Partnership respectively, are currently being finalised, and at the East Asia Summit last month a landmark commitmentwas made by the 18 member states to eliminate malaria in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. Now it is crucial that we mobilise local, regional and international resources to turn these commitments and strategies into action and make elimination a reality.
UK parliamentarians have an important role to play. They can champion the cause of malaria elimination in Parliament, hold the government to account and advocate for a new framework for malaria funding that will see acceleration towards malaria elimination, after the current frameworkexpires. They also have the power to mobilise parliamentarians in malaria-endemic countries to ensure the necessary local, national and international resources are directed towards halting the spread of drug-resistant malaria.
Malaria Consortium yesterday convened a meeting of civil society, academia, private sector and parliamentarians, in partnership with the New Statesman magazine, to draw the attention of these decision makers to the critical importance of a coordinated and sustained focus upon halting this threat. We urge the UK Government to develop a new malaria framework that sets out the vision for malaria elimination in the region, as that is the only way to defeat drug-resistant malaria.
A report of this meeting will be published in the New Statesman on 29 January 2015.
For more information about Malaria Consortium’s work, you can watch our videos from the field on the
Active Case Detection and Treatment (ACAT) project and the Malaria Elimination project.
Keywords: Advocacy and policy