As April approaches hopefully people begin to think about the problem of malaria in a larger context. We now have moved from Africa Malaria Day to World Malaria Day. Even though the acronym gives one pause – WMD might hopefully also mean weapons of malaria destruction. Details of WMD can be found on pages hosted by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
We have previously talked about malaria control along the Zambezi basin as an example of this year’s WMD theme. Debates about malaria eradication, with the most recent entry in the New York Times, almost always get back to the borderless nature of the disease – one country cannot eradicate it alone. WHO’s Dr. Kochi was quoted as saying, “Even relatively wealthy countries rarely succeed at that (elimination). South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Mexico all control cases but see new ones imported â€” from Mozambique, Yemen and Guatemala, respectively.” Randall Packard’s short history of malaria shows that malaria does not even recognize oceans as boundaries.
Ultimately we need to strengthen our regional networks and within those actually encourage regional planning. Regional proposals to Global Fund and other donors do not often meet with success. It would seem that donors intentionally or inadvertently maintain colonial borders when disease and social and economic problems rarely respect them. WMD is a good time to get behind the purpose of RBM’s sub-regional networks and “coordinate timely support from partners to countries regarding technical, operational and systemic issues and support acceleration in the scaling-up of effective malaria intervention packages.”