“The shortfall in malaria investment is daunting. It is important we find the right balance between funding countries with the highest burden, and those aspiring for malaria elimination.”
Dr Sylvia Meek, Technical Director of Malaria Consortium, was addressing an audience of EU parliamentarians, development specialists, international organisations and diplomats at a panel discussion in Brussels yesterday. The topic: Malaria elimination in the SDG Era: What can the EU do?
“If we are to meet the 2030 targets for malaria control and elimination, we need to scale up cost-effective interventions, such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention and support innovative approaches such as mobile technology to reach the people at the end of the line,” she added.
Hosted by Malaria Consortium in partnership with Parliament Magazine, the panel of experts questioned how to drive the agenda to eliminate malaria forward in the post-2015 era, against a backdrop of rising antimalarial resistance in Southeast Asia. Discussions also highlighted the need for increased funding to achieve ambitious 2030 targets and stressed the importance of accelerating progress in countries where the burden of malaria is greatest and progress slow.
The author of the latest World Malaria Report 2015 Richard Cibulskis, Malaria Strategy Economics and Elimination Coordinator at the World Health Organization (WHO), presented exclusive findings of the latest World Malaria Report and the fight against this deadly disease.
Significant progress has been made, Mr. Cibulskis said, “Between 2000 and 2015, new malaria cases fell by 37 percent globally, and by 42 percent in Africa. During this same period, malaria mortality rates fell by 60 percent globally and by 66 percent in the African region. During the same period, the mortality rate among children under five fell by 65 percent worldwide and by 71 percent in Africa.”
However, the disease still claimed 438,000 lives in 2015 worldwide. Most of these deaths occurred in the African region (90 percent), followed by the Southeast Asia Region (seven percent). Children under five are particularly vulnerable. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306,000 children under five globally, including 292,000 children in the African region.
A number of challenges pose a serious threat to the control and future elimination of the disease. The discussion highlighted the most significant of these, including the growing resistance to antimalarial drugs and insecticides, a lack of progress being made in the highest burden countries, and the funding gap between current investment and what is actually needed to eliminate malaria by 2030, as estimated in the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (GTS) 2016-2030, the WHO document that will guide malaria elimination efforts in the SDG era.
Furthermore, the debate highlighted how best to reach the most vulnerable populations, especially children, and the crucial role the EU can play in efforts to eliminate malaria by 2030. Discussions stressed the need for active EU involvement in maintaining momentum and support for malaria efforts.
Held to coincide with the release of the World Malaria Report on the 9 December, the event took place at a pivotal moment in development history, with the conclusion of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals this year.
The panel was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and chaired by Nirj Deva MEP, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Development. Speakers included Dr Richard Cibulskis, Strategy, Evidence and Economics Coordinator, of WHO Global Malaria Programme and author of the World Malaria Report, Dr Sylvia Meek, Technical Director of Malaria Consortium, Dr. Octavian Bivol, Senior Advisor for Relations with the EU Institutions of UNICEF/Brussels, Dr Jan Paehler, Policy Officer, Health Sector of the European Commission and Dr Michael Johnson, Head of Technical Advice and Partnerships of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.