“The issue of drug resistant malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion is an urgent one. We need to see every case as an emergency and to act quickly. Our most effective drugs are under threat and the only way to address this is to eliminate the disease.”
Charles Nelson, Chief Executive of Malaria Consortium, made this assertion while speaking to an audience of EU development specialists, diplomats and decision makers at a panel discussion in Brussels today.
Hosted by Malaria Consortium, in partnership with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the discussion – Achieving Malaria Elimination: The role of the EU – questioned how to maintain progress already made in the fight against malaria, while preventing the spread of a drug resistant strain of the disease across Southeast Asia.
Although a scale-up of effective interventions has led to a reduction in global malaria mortality rates by nearly half since 2000, a number of challenges pose a serious threat to gains made. One of the most concerning is growing resistance to artemisinin by the malaria parasite, which has been emerging in Southeast Asia.
Without concerted action, there will be a resurgence in malaria and if it spreads to sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur, the impact would be devastating.
The debate highlighted the need for increased collaboration across all sectors, including increasing the role of the private sector in malaria surveillance, high quality diagnosis of all suspected cases of malaria and the need to reach out to all communities, including the hardest to reach, such as ethnic minority groups, migrant and mobile populations.
Held to coincide with World Malaria Day 2015 (25th April), the event took place at a pivotal moment in development history, with the conclusion of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals this year. Discussions served to shine a critical light on the need for active EU involvement in developing strategies for the containment of drug resistance.
The event was held at the Africa Caribbean Secretariat in Brussels and key speakers included Dr John F. Kakule, Human Affairs Expert, ACP Group of States; Pru Smith, Communications Advisor, RBM Partnership; Dr Walter Seidel, Head of Sector, Health, DG International Cooperation and Development; Ashley Birkett, Director, PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Dr Scott Filler, Senior Disease Coordinator, Malaria, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.