Category Archives: Elimination

Malaria Day 17 Years Later: Documenting and Investing to End Malaria

The first time the global community observed a day devoted to tackling the problem of malaria was April 25th 2001. This was agreed upon at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria held in Abuja, Nigeria in 2000. The first seven annual observances were titled “Africa Malaria Day,” and recognized that the largest global burden of the disease affects people on the African continent. As thoughts moved toward elimination, the importance of addressing all endemic communities resulted in the first “World Malaria Day” in 2008.

Thus on April 25th 2017 we are observing the 17th Malaria Day overall and the 10th anniversary of World Malaria Day. This observance has been complimented over the years with a malaria day for the Southern African Development Community and for countries in the Americas.

Each year Malaria Day has had a theme or themes to help focus education and advocacy. Regardless of the theme, the special day has been a time to mark progress and rally partners from the global to community level to continue the fight against the disease. The list below shows some of the issues/themes raised on the past Malaria Days. As noted, in some years advocacy efforts dealt with more than one key idea, though all are not presented.

  • 2001 – Africa Malaria Day 2001: The First Africa Malaria Day; Malaria – A Crisis With Solutions; A Malaria Free-World
  • 2002 – Mobilizing Communities to Roll Back Malaria
  • 2003 – Insecticide Treated Nets and effective malaria treatment for pregnant
  • women and young children
  • 2004 – A Malaria-Free Future: Children for Children to Roll Back Malaria
  • 2005 – Unite against malaria: Together we can beat malaria
  • 2006 – Get Your ACT Together: Universal Access to Effective Malaria Treatment is a Human Right
  • 2007 – Leadership and Partnership for Results
  • 2008 – Malaria, A Disease without Borders
  • 2009 – Counting Malaria Out
  • 2010 – Counting Malaria Out; (and in the Africa Region) Communities engage to conquer malaria!
  • 2011 – Achieving Progress and Impact
  • 2012 – Sustain Gains. Save Lives. Invest in Malaria
  • 2013-15 – Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria
  • 2016-17 – End Malaria for Good

In sum these themes emphasize the importance of access to malaria interventions, documenting that access, using the data to stimulate more investment ultimately leading to an end (elimination) of malaria. The most recent World Malaria Report (2016) provides several important examples of the progress so far.

  • Households with least one ITN increased to 79% in 2015
  • 53% of the population at risk slept under an ITN in 2015 in Africa increasing from 30% in 2010
  • The proportion of suspected malaria cases receiving a parasitological test in the public sector increased from 40% in the WHO African Region in 2010 to 76% in 2015
  • In 2015, 31% of eligible pregnant women received three or more doses of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) among 20 countries with sufficient data, a major increase from 6% in 2010

In addition to noting progress, the report also points out gaps in appropriate care seeking for malaria, attendance at antenatal care clinics, and adequate numbers of nets for a household. As implied in the IPTp data, there is the additional problem of obtaining timely and accurate date to document progress and/or gaps. Looking at the Malaria Day themes around investing, we know that unless one can show investors results, it will be difficult to “End Malaria for Good.”

A malaria elimination framework that includes high prevalence countries, too

When the Nigeria Malaria Control Program changes its name to Nigeria Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) a few years ago, people wondered whether this was getting too far ahead of the situation in one of the highest burden malaria countries in the world. The recently released Framework for Malaria Elimination by the Global Malaria Program of WHO shows that all endemic countries can fit into the elimination process.

Recent Webinar by WHO’s Global Malaria Program stressed that all countries have a role in malaria elimination

The Framework stresses that, “Every country can accelerate progress towards elimination through evidence-based strategies, regardless of the current intensity of transmission and the malaria burden they may carry.” The Three pillars of the malaria elimination framework have room for high burden countries. Pillar 1 states that, “Ensure universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment.”

First it is important to understand that the Framework defines malaria elimination as the cessation of indigenous mosquito-borne transmission of malaria throughout a country. The Framework also observes that even within countries there are diverse transmission areas. Some are not amenable to malaria transmission, while others may be amenable but do not experience transmission.

It is important to realize that malaria transmission in most countries is characterized by diversity and complexity. Areas where transmission is occurring range from very low transmission zones where hotspots erupt to high levels of ongoing transmission. Thus even high burden countries may have variation that require development of intervention packages tailored to the specific transmission setting.

This stratification and development of appropriate intervention packages requires, “Excellent surveillance and response are the keys to achieving and maintaining malaria elimination; information systems must become increasingly ‘granular’ to allow identification, tracking, classification and response for all malaria cases (e.g. imported, introduced, indigenous).” This should lead to “subnational elimination targets as internal milestones.”

For high burden countries key components of Pillar 1 is, “Vector control strategies, such as use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs/LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), together with case management (prompt access to diagnosis and effective treatment) are critical for reducing malaria morbidity and mortality, and reducing malaria transmission.”

Recommendations like ensuring political commitment, private sector involvement and establishment of an independent advisory committee are valuable at all stages of elimination. A challenge for high burden countries will be maintaining political commitment over many years. Early involvement of the private sector will boost coverage of major interventions. An independent advisory/monitoring group will help track data and progress.

It is important to put in place good monitoring systems to ensure that program coverage is well targeted, achieved and maintained. “Systematic tracking of programme actions over time, including budget allocations and adherence to standard operating procedures.” This enables accountability and enhances political commitment.

Finally the Malaria Atlas Project has mapped most recent data, and as we can see Nigeria does have a variety of transmission settings. We know now that the decision of Nigeria’s malaria program to update its name was appropriate. Hopefully not only the NMEP but also the various state malaria programs will look at their malaria transmission strata and plan according toward elimination.

Leadership and Support for Malaria Pre-Elimination in Nepal

Emmanuel Le Perru, Jhpiego field staff in Nepal, shared his experiences in aiding the malaria pre-elimination efforts in the country during a retreat that preceded the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta. Here are some highlights of his talk.

risk-mapMalaria Pre-Elimination efforts are targeting 0 deaths as well as investigation of 100% of confirmed cases in Nepal. Systematic entomology investigation/interventions are required. Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency (enzyme genetic defect causing hemolysis with primaquine) testing for Plasmodium vivax in high G6PDd prevalence communities is required. Cases should receive treatment within 72 hours of symptoms for Pf (to quickly prevent transmission and gametocyte reservoir). There is also a need to distinguish between indigenous and imported cases.

Jhpiego is providing technical assistance and capacity building for Nepal’s Ministry of Health pre-elimination efforts as follows:

  • Integrated Vector Management
  • Micro-stratification
  • Entomology curriculum to be conducted in medical college (need new positions)
  • Case-based Surveillance guidelines
  • Private-sector engagement (for increased reporting and product quality control/procurement such as Antigen RDTs)
  • Capacity Assessments in 9 health systems strengthening components at central and district levels (Jhpiego Malaria Implementation Guide)
  • Human resources: clear job descriptions and performance goals
  • Leadership & Management development program

gfatm-bednets-distProgram highlights include the fact that the Global Fund malaria grant rating improved from B2 (inadequate but demonstrating potential) in January 2016, but now A2 (meeting expectations) in November 2016. Concept note for operational research at 2 or 3 border check points has been developed in order to determine whether such intervention (communication & voluntary screening) is cost-effective and relevant to catch/target imported cases, raise awareness on malaria available services, detect/prevent sources of potential outbreaks. This will inform GFATM on the relevance to fund such intervention. A similar approach was done at the China-Myanmar border but was not recognized by not WHO.

Nepal's Global Fund Grant Indicators for Malaria Case Management

Nepal’s Global Fund Grant Indicators for Malaria Case Management

Although the National Malaria Strategic Plan refers to high risk groups (forest workers, national parks security personnel, refugees, prisoners, etc.) evidence is needed to back this up. A study or improved investigation forms are needed to identify such groups and use this information to design appropriate behavior change communications and other interventions.

Special Programming Highlights include proposing a focus on Closed/Isolated Settings/Foci (limited migration, duration and population) to WHO and GFATM. Considering a targeted mass drug administration (MDA) Plasmodium vivax (not yes recommended by WHO) with Primaquine/G6PD testing. Consideration is being given to new drugs in the pipeline such as Ivermectin. Molecular Testing using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to detect low parasitemia, asymptomatic or re-infection cases (Pv includes inactive/dormant sporozoites known as hypnozoites) is being proposed.

Community based testing as proposed in the Global Fund grant needs strengthening. Therefore RDT use by Female Community Health Volunteer is being considered. Active case detection is another possibility for those areas moving toward pre-elimination. As mentioned, there is also need for studies of asymptomatic infection.

Lessons learned so far for best practices for efforts in identifying specific pre-elimination interventions include the value of getting consensus at national level through the Malaria Technical Working Group. There is also need to challenge WHO recommendations and engage dialogue to get creative. At present there is a risk of a Catch 22 situation wherein the GFATM asks for innovative interventions but at the same time tries to adhere strictly WHO to existing guidance.

The Nepalese malaria program is in constant dialogue with the GFATM Fund Portfolio Manager and team on the local context and technical challenges in order to get them involved in looking for innovative solutions.

Challenges arise in malaria diagnostics. While systematic microscopy is the gold standard, quality can be poor because of low stain/re-agent quality, constant staff turnover and donor reluctance to fund additional training. Also microscopy confirmation and slide quality control are time consuming, and often this process is not clear or well followed. PCR require specific equipment, training and qualifications. Takes time to be operational.

There are opportunities moving forward.  Progress could be made if there were more “elimination experts” to position to influencer to WHO to seek and propose new interventions for the pre-elimination stage. Nepal provides an ideal opportunity to test new ideas. It will also be necessary for the national malaria program staff to receive regular technical updates on program issues such as new drugs (Ivermectin?) and on-going pilots of MDA.

Malaria Day in The Americas Forum

In commemoration of Malaria Day in the Americas 2016

The Pan American Health Organization, The UN Foundation, The Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, and Center for Communication Programs at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Cordially invite you to attend the

“End Malaria for Good” Forum

Featuring videos, presentations and discussions on

The work of the ‘Malaria Champions of the Americas 2016’

malariaevite-2016-americasWHEN: Thursday, November 3, 2016, TIME: 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Room B, PAHO Headquarters, 525 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC—20037

RSVP: Please fill out the form at https://goo.gl/0oaPzX

Light refreshments will be served

Does Malaria Meet the Criteria for Eradication?

World Malaria Report 2015 CoverWhat it is that makes a disease “eradicable,” or more correctly what makes it possible to eliminate malaria in each country leading to the total eradication world-wide. Bruce Aylward and colleagues identified three main sets of factors by drawing on lessons of four previous attempts to eradicate diseases (including the first effort at malaria eradication in the 1950s and ‘60s).[1]

  1. biological and technical feasibility
  2. costs and benefits, and
  3. societal and political considerations

So far smallpox is the only success because as Aylward et al. pointed out biologically, humans were the only reservoir and on the technical side a very effective vaccine was developed. The eradication campaign was promoted in clear terms of economic and related benefits. While the early malaria eradication efforts started with political will and recognition of the potential economic benefits of malaria eradication, the will was not sustained over two decades. On the technical side at that time there was only one main tool again malaria, indoor residual insecticide spraying, and mosquitoes quickly developed resistance to the chemicals. Are we better able to meet the three eradication criteria today?

Today’s technical challenges are embodied in intervention coverage problems. The World Malaria Report of 2015[2] (WMR2015) explains that the problem is most pronounced in the 15 highest burden countries, and consequently these showed the slowest declines in morbidity and mortality over the past 15 years. Use of insecticide treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women hovers around 50%, while appropriate case management of malaria lags well below 20%, a far cry from the goals of universal coverage. A further explanation of the technical challenges as outlined in the WMR2015 lies in “weaknesses in health systems in countries with the greatest malaria burden.”

The economic benefits criteria should be most pronounced in the high burden countries, but these are also generally ones with low personal income. Ironically, the WMR2015 points out that it is the high costs of malaria care and the malaria burden that further weaken health systems. More investment is needed in order to see more economic benefits.

Biological challenges to elimination are also identified in the WMR2015. Examples of existing and arising biological difficulties include –

  • Plasmodium vivax malaria which requires a more complicated regimen to affect a cure.
  • “Since 2010, of 78 countries reporting (insecticide resistance) monitoring data, 60 reported resistance to at least one insecticide in one vector population.
  • “P. falciparum resistance to artemisinins has now been detected in five countries in the Greater Mekong subregion.” Historically chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance spread from this area and now artemisinin resistance marks a ‘Third Wave” of resistance emanating from the region.[3]
  • “Human cases of malaria due to P. knowlesi have been recorded – this species causes malaria among monkeys in certain forested areas of South-East Asia,” and so far human-to- human transmission has not been documented.

On the positive side greater political support to elimination efforts has been expressed by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) who met at the African Union Leaders Summit in Addis Abba early in 2015 and resolved to eliminate malaria by 2030.[4] This call to action was backed up with an expansion of ALMA’s quarterly scorecard rating system of African countries’ performance to include elimination indicators.[5]

In conclusion, political will exists, but needs to be backed with greater financial investment in order to produce economic benefits. Time is of the essence in taking action because biological and technical forces are pressing against elimination. 2030 seems far, but we cannot wait another 15 years to take action against these challenges to malaria elimination.

[1] Aylward B, Hennessey KA, Zagaria N, Olivé J, Cochi S. When Is a Disease Eradicable? 100 Years of Lessons Learned. American Journal of Public Health, 2000; 90(10): 1515-20.

[2] World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2015. WHO Press, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland, 2015.

[3] IRIN (news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). “Third wave” of malaria resistance lurks on Thai-Cambodia border. August 29, 2014. http://www.irinnews.org/report/100549/third-wave-of-malaria-resistance-lurks-on-thai-cambodia-border

[4] United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on MDGs. African Leaders Call for Elimination of Malaria by 2030. Feb. 3, 2015. http://www.mdghealthenvoy.org/african-leaders-call-for-elimination-of-malaria-by-2030/

[5] African Malaria Leaders Alliance. ALMA 2030 Scorecard Towards Malaria Elimination, December 2014. http://alma2030.org/sites/default/files/sadc-elimination-scorecard/alma_scorecards_poster_english.pdf

Winning the fight against malaria in Huambo Province, Angola

Colleagues[1] from the Ministry of Health, Huambo, Angola and Jhpiego are presenting a poster at the 64th ASTMH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia at noon on Tuesday 27th October 2015. Please stop by Poster LB-5246 and discuss the results as presented in the Abstract below.

Angola malaria mapHuambo is on of Angola’s 18 provinces, with close to 2 million inhabitants. Traditionally malaria has accounted for a large portion of clinic consultations, hospitalizations, and child and maternal mortality. Angola has three epidemiological strata: hyper-endemic area (north), meso-endemic stable area (central area), where Huambo is located, and meso-endemic unstable area (south).

The main malaria vector is Anopheles gambiae (ss, melas and arabiensis) and Anopheles funestus. Parasitological studies show 85% of cases are P falciparum and 15% are P vivax.

The Huambo Provincial Health Directorate has been working with stakeholders including national and international NGOs, traditional leaders, churches, religious leaders, police, army and media to fight malaria. This collaboration is showing results.

Huambo ProgressCases have dropped steadily from 620,300 in 2008 to 68,547 in 2014. Likewise deaths have declined from 1,559 to 17 in the same period. During this period there has been an increase in training and supervision of health professionals to improve their malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment skills.

Rapid diagnostic tests have been deployed to all health units. Work with community organizations has resulted in health fairs (Uhayele Vimbo) in more remote locations. Over the most recent 5-year period the number of antenatal care clients receiving two doses of IPTp with SP has increased from 10,938 to 68,183 or from 30% to 54%.

Finally 330,000 ITNs were distributed between 2010 and 2014. The Province and its organizational and community partners are committed to sustaining these achievements in order to further reduce malaria morbidity and mortality.

[1] João Carlos F. Juliana, Jhony Juarez, Clementino Sacanombo, William R. Brieger

 

Readiness for Malaria Elimination: Using HMIS data to Map Malaria Test Positivity in Huambo Province, Angola

20150908_103625Colleagues[1] from the Ministry of Health Angola, Jhpiego and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of public Health are presenting a poster at the 64th ASTMH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia at noon on Monday 26th October 2015. Please stop by Poster LB-5094 and discuss the results as presented in the Abstract below.

Huambo Province in the south central highlands of Angola has a population of nearly 2 million, or 15% of the nation’s total. It is classified in the stable meso-endemic belt of the country, but is in the process of revising its malaria strategy to bring it closer to the pre-elimination phase on the pathway to malaria elimination. This means aiming to achieve 5% slide positivity rate for malaria parasites during the height of the transmission season (NovembSlide positivity rateser to January).

The health information system of the country reports information of positive and negative results of testing for suspected malaria cases from hospitals and clinics. The former use microscopy, while the latter rely on malaria rapid diagnostic tests (mRDTs). This information was analyzed for the past three high transmission periods and variations are reported herein among the 11 municipalities (districts) of the province.

The overall test positivity rates for all three seasons were 11% for microscopy and 25% for mRDTs among the 212,102 persons tested. The 4 municipalities in the northern part of the province ranged from 16-26% slide positivity and 24-44% mRDT positivity. The remaining municipalities in the south and central area ranged from 1-5% slide positivity and 3-16% mRDT positivity. Only one municipality achieved a positivity rate of <5% for both tests.

Moving forward, Huambo first intends to improve on the quality and coverage of malaria testing. The Ministry of Health will also focus on sustained control measures in the north, and begin more detailed mapping of malaria incidence in the central and southern municipalities to provide better targeting of interventions.

——-

[1] João Carlos F. Juliana, William R. Brieger, Jhony Juare3, Connie Lee, Clementino Sacanombo

Jhpiego Malaria Activities Featured in Posters at ASTMH Annual Meeting

AM15bannerToday marks the start of the 64th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from 25-29 October 2015 in Philadelphia. Please stop by the poster sessions Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to see a sampling of Jhpiego’s malaria programs. We are featuring Angola, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. You can also discuss with Jhpiego staff at Booth #100 in the Exhibition Hall.

Poster Session A Monday 26 October 2015JHPIEGO Logo 2007

  • LB-5094 – Readiness for Malaria Elimination: Using HMIS data to Map Malaria Test Positivity in Huambo Province, Angola – João Carlos F. Juliana1, William R. Brieger2, Jhony Juarez3, Connie Lee3, Clementino Sacanombo1 – 1Ministry of Health, Huambo, Angola, 2The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3Jhpiego, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States.
  • 385 – Health Systems Strengthening: Improving quality of services for prevention of malaria in pregnancy through the Standards-Based Management and Reward approach in Kenya – Augustine M. Ngindu1, Gathari Ndirangu2, Sanyu N. Kigondu2, Isaac M. Malonza3 – 1USAID-MCSP, Kisumu, Kenya, 2USAID-MCSP, Nairobi, Kenya, 3Jhpiego Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya

Poster Session B Tuesday 27 October 2015

  • 969 – Improving provision of malaria services through provider training in Burkina Faso – Ousman Badolo1, Stanislas Nebie1, Moumouni Bonkoungou1, Mathurin Dodo1, Thierry Ouedraogo1, Rachel Waxman1, William R. Brieger2 – 1Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 2Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 680 – Institutionalization of Quality of Care in Health Facilities Improves Management of Malaria in Pregnancy in Tanzania – Jasmine W. Chadewa, Rita Mutayoba – Jhpiego, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, United Republic of Tanzania
  • LB-5224 – Health systems strengthening – Advocacy facilitates availability of sulfadoxine pyrimethamine for prevention of malaria in pregnancy in Kenya – Augustine M. Ngindu1, Gathari G. Ndirangu2, Wekesa Kubasu3, Isaac M. Malonza4 – 1USAID-MCSP, Kisumu, Kenya, 2USAID-MCSP, Nairobi, Kenya, 3MOH, Bungoma, Kenya, 4Jhpiego,, Nairobi, Kenya Poster
  • LB-5246 – Winning the fight against malaria in Huambo Province, Angola – João Carlos F. Juliana1, Jhony Juarez2, Clementino Sacanombo1, William R. Brieger3 – 1Ministry of Health, Huambo, Angola, 2Jhpiego, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States

Symposium #83 Organized by Jhpiego, RBM Malaria in Pregnancy Working Group – Prioritizing Malaria in Pregnancy as Malaria Transmission Declines – Tuesday, October 27, 2015 1:45 – 3:30 PM

Poster Session C Wednesday 28 October 2015

  • 1655 – Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy: Increasing the Doses in Burkina Faso – Ousman Badolo1, Stanislas P. Nebie1, Mathurin Dodo1, Thierry Ouedraogo1, Rachel Waxman1, William R. Brieger2 – 1Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 2Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 1330 – Use of community health volunteers to increase coverage for integrated community case management in Bondo, Kenya – Savitha Subramanian1, Mark Kabue2, Dyness Kasungami1,   Makeba Shiroya-Wadambwa3, Dan James Otieno4, Charles Waka3 – 1John Snow, Inc., Rosslyn, VA, United States, 2Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3Jhpiego, Nairobi, Kenya, 4John Snow, Inc., Nairobi, Kenya
  • 1657 – LLIN distribution campaign processes: Lessons learned and challenges from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria – John Orok1, Bright Orji2, Enobong Ndekhedehe2, William R. Brieger3 – 1Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State, Uyo, Nigeria, 2Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 1656 – Use of Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Bednets in Akwa Ibom State Nigeria after a Major Distribution Campaign – Enobong U. Ndekhedehe1, John Orok2, Bright C. Orji1, William R. Brieger3 – 1Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 2Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, Uyo, Nigeria, 3Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States

Eradication, Elimination: What is Feasible – WHO Global Malaria Program

Over the past few months several key malaria partners have been discussing the potentials for malaria elimination and mentioning target dates. Based on these discussions and publications Dr Pedro Alonso, Director, Global Malaria Programme or the World Health Organization has provided a reminder of WHO’s position and strategy. We share his comments for our readers below.

24 October 2015

Dear colleagues and partners,

Global Malaria Strategy Cover Page blue borderIn recent weeks, you may have seen press articles stating that the United Nations and partners are calling on the world to eradicate malaria by the year 2040.

The World Health Organization (WHO) shares the vision of a malaria-free world and – to that end – we welcome the commitment of all of our partners. However, I would like to clarify the strategy, targets and timeline that our organization has endorsed at this point in time.

WHO’s work on malaria is guided, as you will recall, by the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria Elimination 2016-2030, adopted in May 2015 by the World Health Assembly. The strategy calls for accelerated action toward malaria elimination in countries and regions but does not set a time frame for global eradication.

This WHO strategy is complemented by the Roll Back Malaria advocacy plan, Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria 2016-2030.  Both documents were the result of an extensive consultative process involving the participation of more than 400 malaria experts from 70 countries. They set ambitious but achievable global targets, including:

  • Reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90% by 2030
  • Reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90% by 2030
  • Eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries by 2030
  • Preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free

The timeline of 2016-2030 is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the new global development framework adopted by all UN Member States in September.

New WHO estimates

Recent news articles have reported a wide range of estimates on case incidence, mortality and global investment for malaria, which may have caused confusion. Please find below two documents with the latest WHO-approved estimates:

  1. A fact sheet with key global and regional estimates from the WHO-UNICEF report “Achieving the malaria MDG target,” published on 17 Sept. 2015. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/ (see some excerpts below)
  1. An updated WHO general fact sheet on malaria.
    http://www.who.int/malaria/media/malaria-mdg-target/en/

Best regards,

Dr Pedro Alonso
Director, Global Malaria Programme
World Health Organization

Elimination

Malaria elimination is defined as interrupting local mosquito-borne malaria transmission in a defined geographical area, typically countries; i.e. zero incidence of locally contracted cases. Malaria eradication is defined as the permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of malaria infection caused by a specific agent; i.e. applies to a particular malaria parasite species.

On the basis of reported cases for 2013, 55 countries are on track to reduce their malaria case incidence rates by 75%, in line with World Health Assembly targets for 2015. Large-scale use of WHO-recommended strategies, currently available tools, strong national commitments, and coordinated efforts with partners, will enable more countries – particularly those where malaria transmission is low and unstable – to reduce their disease burden and progress towards elimination.

In recent years, 4 countries have been certified by the WHO Director-General as having eliminated malaria: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), and Armenia (2011). In 2014, 13 countries reported 0 cases of malaria within their own borders. Another 6 countries reported fewer than 10 cases of malaria.

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 sets ambitious but achievable global targets, including:

  • Reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90% by 2030.
  • Reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90% by 2030.
  • Eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries by 2030.
  • Preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.

“Nobel” drug discoveries rewarded, but delivery of malaria and filarial medicines to the community also matters

Herbs, soil and hard scientific work have yielded Nobel Prizes in Medicine/Physiology for three scientists whose results now save millions of lives from death and disability due to malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and filariasis (elephantiasis), according to the New York Times. Two of the winners, “Dr. Campbell and Dr. Omura, developed Avermectin, the parent of Ivermectin, a medicine that has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis.” Dr Tu Youyou, “inspired by Chinese traditional medicine in discovering Artemisinin, a drug that is now part of standard anti-malarial regimens and that has reduced death rates from the disease.”

Community Case Management of Malaria in Rwanda using Rapid Diagnostic Tests and ACTs

Community Case Management of Malaria in Rwanda using Rapid Diagnostic Tests and ACTs

The development of these chemicals into human medicines was a long time coming, and in the case of artemisinin, over 2000 years. The Guardian quotes the Deputy Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as saying that, “Artemisinin was discovered when fatalities from malaria were rocketing and the world was terrified we’d be looking at a post-chloroquine era. It has been a real game-changer.”

In fact artemisinin in combination with other medicines or artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) rescued many lives in the face of parasite resistance to earlier first line drugs like chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimentamine (though artemisinin resistance is now growing). ACTs are also made freely available to populations in malaria endemic countries through such programs as the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), the US President’s Malaria Initiative, the World Bank and others.

Avermectin began its medical role as a veterinary drug that killed parasites in livestock. Eventually research by Merck based on the similarities between animal and human filarial worms led to the testing and development of ivermectin to control onchocerciasis through annual doses that killed microfilariae.

Not only are both ACTs and ivermectin on WHO’s essential medicines list, but they form the basis of global efforts to eliminate disease. Once Merck determined that ivermectin was safe and effective in humans, it began donations of the drug to what has become the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) and its counterpart that is working to eliminate the disease in the Americas. APOC and its national counterparts now reache people in over 200,000 endemic villages in 18 African countries with annual doses.

Community Directed Distribution of Ivermectin in Cameroon

Community Directed Distribution of Ivermectin in Cameroon

While we celebrate the recognition that the drugs and their discoverers are receiving, we should not lose sight of the fact that without good delivery mechanisms these life saving medicines would not reach the poor, neglected, often remote populations who need them.

Beginning in 1995, APOC and the Tropical Disease Research Program of WHO and partners pioneered what has now become known as Community Directed Interventions (CDI) where the thousands of communities “beyond the end of the road” and their selected volunteers organize the annual ivermectin distributions. This community directed approach works for community case management of malaria, too.

Hopefully in the future, groups like APOC will receive Nobel Prize recognition for ensuring that those in need actually receive the medicines they require. In the meantime we encourage more countries to adopt the CDI approach to reduce malaria deaths and work toward the elimination of malaria, onchocerciasis and filariasis.