We’re working toward malaria eradication. How close are we?
Malaria eradication as a shared vision can mobilize stakeholders and much-needed financial resources. The World Health Organization estimates that 584,000 people died from malaria in 2013. So, while that big goal of eradication is important, malaria elimination, which means the end of endemic transmission, is what many countries are aspiring to in the meantime. As noted in the President’s Malaria Initiative’s World Malaria Day report for 2015, the community continues to work toward a vaccine, and we’ve had some impressive successes in reducing mortality and increasing the uptake of prevention measures. But, there is much more to be done in order to defeat malaria.
Who are FHI 360’s key partners in this fight?
The Roll Back Malaria Partnership is the global framework that was established to create a common vision of how and where we want to go as a global community. It consists of more than 500 partners, including the governments of malaria-endemic countries, bilateral and multilateral donors, the private sector, foundations, and research and academic institutions. The World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme sets policies and guidelines for fighting malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership works with individual countries to implement them.
On April 25th, in recognition of World Malaria Day, we will be participating in a discussion, Partnerships for Malaria Elimination — Lessons and Opportunities, co-hosted by GBCHealth, the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa and Harvard University’s Defeating Malaria Initiative. The focus will be the role of public–private partnerships. You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #PPP4malaria.
Can you provide an example of an FHI 360 partnership to address malaria?
I think FHI 360’s work in Nigeria, the Malaria Action Program for States (MAPS), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, provides a useful example of a partnership at work. We’ve supported Nigeria’s national malaria elimination program, increased awareness of malaria as a killer disease, particularly for those ages 5 and under, and worked with the country’s Ministry of Health on mass distribution campaigns of insecticidal nets to schools and health facilities. We’ve supported capacity strengthening for health workers in the nine project states, built ministry demand for and capacity in monitoring and evaluation and collection of data for decision making, and teamed with community health workers to reach remote and underserved areas.
What is the next set of challenges to address?
I’ve been thinking a lot about exactly that question. Reaching out to hyper-remote areas for prevention and treatment will be critical — nobody should be left out. As urbanization accelerates, we need to start disaggregating data so that we capture what’s happening with malaria among the urban poor. Dealing with the increased resistance to antimalarial drugs and insecticides is another key challenge, as is the relatively thin pipeline of new malarial medicines in development. We need to train more community health workers. Malaria in pregnancy is a double whammy. It kills both mothers and infants. We need to strive to increase the uptake of the proven intermittent presumptive therapy for pregnant women to address the problem. And, of course, we need to revamp our efforts on financing going forward — otherwise these challenges will only escalate, and at worse, reverse the gains we have made.