In partnership with the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), and with funding support from the President’s Malaria Initiative, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG), Malaria Consortium will be leading the first national baseline survey for malaria in Myanmar later this year. Despite having one of the highest malaria burdens in Asia, the country has made significant progress in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. However, there are still several obstacles that stand in the way of the goal of elimination. The largest of these threats is the emergence of drug resistant malaria parasites along the international border areas, including the Myanmar-Thailand and Myanmar-China borders as well as in some areas in central Myanmar.
The Myanmar Artemisinin Resistance Containment (MARC) framework was endorsed in April 2011 and the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), together with implementing partners, initiated immediate containment actions in July that same year. In 2012, a survey was conducted in MARC areas to serve as a baseline for the MARC Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, as well as establishing baselines for other projects including those funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM).
However, to date no malaria surveys have been conducted at national scale to assess malaria prevalence and artemisinin resistance. Although efforts are being made to improve the health information system in Myanmar, malaria data remain incomplete with regards to geographical coverage (past surveys did not fully capture hard-to-reach areas), completeness, and coverage of high-risk groups.
As Myanmar moves toward an aggressive malaria elimination strategy, there is an urgent need to conduct the first national baseline survey to provide information on the overall malaria burden in the country through malaria prevalence information and measure the current levels of access and coverage of key malaria control interventions.
The results of this survey will help to prioritise malaria services more effectively to areas of greatest malaria burden and provide baseline malaria data to support future assessments of the impact of all malaria-related activities nationwide, as well as for future strategic planning. Additionally, it is hoped that the malaria survey will provide up-to-date information on malaria prevalence, enabling the Ministry of Health to determine which areas need additional support.
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Keywords: Surveillance | Health system strengthening | Elimination