Category Archives: Funding

Country Ownership and Global Fund Grants

The latest edition of Global Fund Observer (#218) from AIDSPAN raised a lingering question about the Funds founding principles – what is country ownership and how is it practiced? The thoughts range from the more altruistic – let the country decide what it needs to do and we’ll give the money – to the more crude, though not stated as such – give the country enough rope (money) to hang itself.

Another founding principle involved the Global Fund seeing itself as only a financial mechanism, not a technical one like the World Health Organization or UNICEF.  AIDSPAN demonstrates how over time, while still not providing direct technical assistance, decisions from the Technical Review Panel and the Global Fund Board, among others, can be seen clearly as offering a technical guidance that must be heeded if funds are to flow.

In short AIDSPAN has shown how the Global Fund itself has taken a more directive role, though often based on programmatic evidence and advocacy from those who have a stake or experience. We also need to look at th other side of the coin – within the country, who owns the Global Fund process?

A major overhaul of Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) some years ago was stimulated by the realization that government agencies are not the sole representatives of their countries and peoples.  While civil society and non-governmental organizations were expected to play a role in CCMs, they were often ignored and rarely had major roles in deciding on and implementing Global Fund sponsored programs in their countries.  Sometimes the advocacy mentioned by AIDSPAN was prompted by CSOs and NGOs not being heard within their own countries.

AIDSPAN mentions changes that the Global Fund has strongly suggested such as having dual track principle recipients (PRs) representing government and the non-governmental sectors.  While this may have represented a somewhat heavy hand from Geneva, the results sometimes reflected the status quo ante and NGO PRs were often relegated to less well funded aspects of programming such as behavior and social change.

Global Fund recipient countries represent a wide diversity of political systems in various stages of evolution.  It would be naive to expect that country ownership really embodies democratic participation of all stakeholders, public, private and NGO, in decision making and implementing on an equal footing – and no one really believes that is fully possible in at present.  Still it is a long term goal and a principle that should guide funding decisions as much as the quality of the technical content of proposed activities.


In the meantime we can look for additional ways and means to hold countries accountable for their health and social programming decisions. A good example is peer influence from the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) which regularly publishes a scorecard of progress toward key health indicators. This freely available score card shows for example, in the first quarter on 2013 only six countries meeting the criteria of good financial management set by the World Bank. In the countdown to 2015, only eight countries are on track in terms of breastfeeding coverage.

As AIDSPAN observes, “But one has to acknowledge that, in the process, the concept of ‘country ownership’ is certainly evolving. Perhaps it will evolve further under the new funding model.” We hope the concept evolves along lines of full and equal partnership among all stakeholders within a country – that all sectors and peoples within a country will truly ‘own’ and thus influence the decision and actions around programs supported through the Global Fund.

Appreciating Many Years of Malaria Partnerships and Investment

wmd2013logo-sm.jpgWhile today it technically the sixth World Malaria Day, one should actually trace the origins back 13 years to the first Africa Malaria Day (AMD) in 2001, held to encourage progress based on the Africa malaria Summit in Abuja just one year before.  And since the Abuja summit and its resulting declaration were backed by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which formed in 1998, one could say the world has 15 years to considering in judging progress in and plans for partner investments in ridding the world of malaria.

In 2001 organizers of Malaria Day events were encouraged to feature a ‘new’ medicine that WHO said could save 100,000 child healths annually in Africa. artimisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) drugs are now the front line treatment in most all endemic countries, and deaths have declined somewhat on the order of 400,000. At that time there was only one major manufacturer of ACTs. Investments by pharmaceutical companies in generic ACTs now means that there are at least nine companies that produce prequalified ACTs. What is needed is more indigenous African pharmaceutical companies approved to invest in ACT production.

logo_animated.gifThe first AMD stressed the risk of malaria to pregnant women and recommended widespread use of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy (IPTp).  This recommendation has been adopted in countries with stable falciparum malaria transmission, but has lagged in terms of implementation, and coverage still lags below the 80% target set at the 2000 Abuja Summit.  There are missed opportunities to provide IPTp at antenatal clinics due to stock-outs, provider attitudes, and client beliefs. Weak health information systems mean that even when services are provided, reporting may not accurately reflect true coverage of IPTp.

In the meantime resistance is growing to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the drug used for IPTp in part due to the inability or unwillingness of country drug authorities to curb its inappropriate use for case management.  WHO now recommends more that the original two IPTp doses and suggests that pregnant women get SP at each ANC visit after quickening.  In the meantime research is underway to find substitutes for SP.

The first AMD addressed the role of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) in helping halve the world’s malaria burden by 2010.  Major progress came in 2008 when the whole United Nations community and of course companies invested in net production got behind universal coverage. In addition the advent of the long lasting insecticide-treated net with insecticide infused in the fabric from point of production pointed the way to success.

These three core interventions – ACTs, IPTp and ITNs – have been strengthened with better diagnostics and a variety of other vector control measures, Hopes for a vaccine still remain a dream, though an achievable one.  While we have high expectations for eradication, we can see that some of the health systems challenges that thwarted the first malaria eradication effort are still with us including weak procurement and supply management, inadequate human resources and gaps in health information systems.

The foregoing implies that we need at least two forms of future investment in malaria. First is investment by governments in strengthening the health system that deliver malaria services. The second investment is in continued biomedical research in order to fend off resistance by mosquitoes and parasites and of course social research to address issues of behavior, adoption of innovations and program management practices. Let’s hope that when World Malaria Day 2014 rolls around, we can measure these increases investments.

Nigerian Lawmakers Skeptical at Time When More National Malaria Support Needed

mip-nigeria-sm.jpgAs global financial support for malaria and other disease control efforts has faltered, there is a greater need for national malaria programs to pick up the slack. A look at Nigeria’s national health accounts does show that ‘foreign’ aid does play a relatively small role in health financing and expenditure in this oil-rich country, but ironically it is the common citizen who picks up the bulk of health financing through out-of-pocket expenditures.

The question of local initiative in the move toward elimination of malaria received a severe blow when the Nigerian Senate Committee on Health questioned the need for continued purchases of long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINS). The Guardian newspaper reported that the, “Chairman of the committee, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, wondered why Nigeria would still continue to cling to the strategy, which he said was not working, when country like Senegal that has manufacturing plants for LLINs was using other effective means to tackle malaria.”

The Senator’s views contrast with those of national experts and the WHO: “While the Minister of State for Health, Dr.Muhammad Ali Pate, said in January that the ministry proposed N1.8 billion for the procurement of LLINs for additional three states, a World Health Organisation (WHO)’s report shows that Nigeria would need one billion dollars (N158 billion) to stave off backsliding and resurgences of malaria in 2013 and 2014.”

It would seem that the Senator was reacting to perceived pressure from the international community to maintain a malaria control strategy that he thought was less effective than indoor residual spraying (IRS).  Of course one of the biggest challenges in disease control advocacy efforts is to educate policy makers. The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, Prof. Innocent Ujah, tried to do this. He pointed out cultural factors that inhibit net use – and in fact lack of serious community follow-up efforts after massive net distribution over the past 2-3 years, can be traced as one reason why LLINs may have been wasted.

The Senator did not realize that malaria control leading toward elimination needs a multifaceted strategy. IRS can be part, but has its own limitations of which one is expense.  In highly endemic, stable and year-round transmission environments like Nigeria, spraying would be needed twice a year.  We forget that Nigeria has already once tried IRS a few decades ago and abandoned the effort in part due to the huge logistical challenges required.

Nigeria has tried selling LLINs/ITNs through the private sector, but coverage was low since not all Nigerians could or would buy them despite paying disproportionately out-of-pocket for treatment. If the government refuses to fund massive LLIN distribution, then we can expect the burden to fall on the common people who may die from malaria before they purchase a more costly net on the commercial market.

Death by Sequestration

Across the board cuts in US funding for almost everything government does (except the salaries of members of Congress!), will have effects on people’s lives. Damage from sequestration is reported daily. Even civil rights are threatened as reported in the Washington Post in a story that highlights the plight of poor people who must remain jailed because funds for public defenders have been cut and there are not enough lawyers to ensure a speedy trial.

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has been tracking the potential effects of the sequester on global health programs of the US Government. amfAR has made estimates based Congress’ action in January 2013, and reported that, “The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has calculated that, as of March 1, 2013, funding for non-defense discretionary programs must be cut across the board by 5.0 percent.1  As we found in our earlier calculations, applying sequestration cuts to US government global health programming will have minimal impact on deficit reduction, but will be devastating to the lives of many thousands of people globally.”

sequestration-infographic_031113-malaria-part-sm.pngHere are the specifics on malaria programs:

  • 1.16 million fewer insecticide-treated mosquito nets will be procured …
  • leading to over 3,000 deaths due to malaria
  • 1.9 million fewer people will receive treatment

InterAction and Global Communities have produced an informational graphic that summarizes the impact on disease control, nutrition and education (see malaria section to right). This comes as part of a general leveling and possible downturn in malaria funding over the past few years. It will be hard to sustain the scale-up in malaria interventions that has been achieved since the United Nations called for universal coverage in 2009.

Most of the decision makers who vote on funds to curb global disease scourges will not likely ever see a case of malaria, much less experience one.  Hopefully this does not mean that they will be immune to advocacy to prevent needless deaths from malaria and other causes of maternal and child mortality.

Towards a Malaria-Free Kenya

Elizabeth Kubo has written this guest blog posting that originally appeared in SBFPHC Policy and Advocacy.

Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many developing countries, where children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable groups. In Kenya, the disease is responsible for 34,000 under five child deaths annually. About 70% of Kenya’s total population is at risk for malaria.

itn-use.jpgWith funding predominantly from international donors and development partners, the country has adopted and implemented multiple malaria control strategies, resulting in a remarkable decline in the national all-cause under 5 mortality. Despite the gains, a slight downward trend was noted in the proportion of households with at least one insecticide treated net (ITN), the proportion of children under five years old who slept under an ITN, and the proportion of pregnant women who slept under an ITN between 2008 and 2010.

The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Department for International Development (DfID), and the US President’s Malaria Initiative have confirmed funding for the 2013 implementation period, but this falls short of the expected need. Despite repeatedly reiterating its commitment to the fight against malaria, the Kenyan government has previously played a minor role in financing the control efforts.

There is an urgent need to intensify scale-up of targeted interventions in order to reverse the downward trend and attain universal targets. It is possible to close the funding gap through greater in-country resource mobilization. Government commitment to malaria control needs to be reflected in ministry of health budgetary allocations. Civil society organizations also have a role to play. It is possible to have a malaria free Kenya.

Fakes and Fraud: another threat to malaria funds

While some countries are being praised this week for their progress in controlling malaria, Uganda seems to be suffering from a double knock out punch when it comes to malaria financing. Challenges have appeared in both the private and public sectors.

In the most recent scorecard from the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) scored poorly in terms of long lasting insecticide treated net distribution and low on the measure of government financial support for the health sector.

herbshop2a-sm.jpgThe private sector challenge has come in the form of fake medicines in local shops. This comes in the form of a threat to individuals and families who spend their hard earned cash, that is out-of-pocket expenditure (OOP) of malaria medicines that at best inappropriate and at worse are devoid of active ingredients, increasing the likelihood that the sick person will develop severe disease and maybe die.

Specifically the Washington Post reported that an indigenous medical practitioner “in Kampala, says he has seen a big increase in business as patients turned off by the prospect of dangerous fake drugs seek relief from illness.” The article explains that although “Officials and international aid agencies have long encouraged the sick to place their trust in modern medicine. But fake pharmaceuticals believed to have come from Asia have flooded” African Markets including Uganda.

The irony is that Uganda is part of the testing of the Affordable Medicines Facility malaria (AMFm) project that was supposed to drive out fake and inappropriate medicines by making low cost (subsidized) quality antimalarials available in both public and private sectors. While Uganda witnessed an increase in market share of the green-leaf branded quality assured artemisinin-based combination therapy drugs, it did not achieve other benchmarks such as supportive behavior change communication and low cost targets (mark-up averaged 133% – highest among the 8 pilots).

The second threat comes from extensive embezzlement by national malaria program staff.  Earlier this month Uganda was in the news for returning 4 million Euro of misappropriated funds to the Irish Government.

Then an ongoing investigation into embezzlement came to light a few days ago. The Observer Newspaper as shared on reported that …

“An investigation into the financial practices of officials running the ministry of Health’s Malaria Control programme (MCP) shows they forged almost everything from workshops, car hires, allowances and fuel expenses. The investigation has now shifted its focus to the extent of the forgery and theft by officials implicated in the loss of nearly Shs 78bn (US $29m). The shift in the focus of the inquiry follows a review of stacks of documents provided by three suspects involved in the MCP scandal. Police confirm that the documents show the extent of the forgery by some officials involved in the anti-malaria campaign.”

In these times when it is difficult to increase health development spending for malaria both domestically and from international donors, all efforts are needed to ensure that waste and fraud are eliminated.

Have we reached a funding plateau for malaria?

As all eyes are on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria with its launching of the new funding mechanism in February 2013, but we have been cautioned to curb our enthusiasm.

Karanja Kinyanjui in Aidspan’s Global Fund Observer explained that “While funding for all health sub-sectors grew over the 2002 to 2010 period, funding for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB increased at faster rates than other sub-sectors such as family planning, nutrition, workforce/management and other infectious diseases,” the growth spurt has leveled off. Readers were asked to see the new Kaiser Family Foundation report on the funding situation.

For malaria we are likely to be plateauing at levels that are only half of what is needed annually to move countries into the pre-elimination phase. The Kaiser Report specifically concludes that …

“While health grew as a share of overall ODA between 2002 and 2010, reflecting its priority among donors, year-to-year increases peaked in 2007 and have declined in each subsequent year. Combined with the OECD’s announcement that ODA in 2011 declined in real terms after more than a decade of steady increases and preliminary estimates that ODA (overseas development aid) is not expected to increase significantly in the coming years, caution about future donor assistance for health may be warranted”

kaiser-oda-for-health-2002-10-sm.jpgODA Health funding did grow from $4.4 billion to $18.4 billion between 2002 and 2010. Even under this increase, malaria funding did not meet needs. Malaria was a negligible component in 2002, and reached $1.6 billion, but this along with aid for nutrition, reproductive health, basic health services and others was dwarfed by HIV/AIDS funding at $7.4 billion for 2010.

In the past two years since the Global Fund Round 11 was cancelled there has been “a significant impact on programmes to fight AIDS, TB and malaria including, in particular, programmes being implemented by civil society organisations (CSOs). Programme scale-up and even some essential life-saving interventions that were planned by countries were halted.”  The transitional funding mechanism allowed some countries to tread water, but the new start up in February will not hit the ground with funds for at least a year.

Other aid sources such as bilateral programs in the UK, USA and Germany and multilaterals like the World Bank and UNICEF are certainly key players in malaria program financial support, but their help can supplement the big source, Global Fund, not replace it. Bilateral programs in particular are hit by budget problems that yield at best no increase in ODA, if not cuts.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network describes the current funding situation succinctly – “Quitting while not ahead: The Global Fund’s retrenchment and the looming crisis for harm reduction …” The situation with CSOs shows their dependence on large donors, too – so we cannot find our way out by simply donating to charity no matter how many NGOs assure us our individual dollars will give someone a bednet.  Malaria elimination is a problem that requires going to scale by the whole global community.

Malaria Funding – advocacy and creativity needed

Is there a malaria lobby? Who advocates for more funds from donor countries and within endemic countries? The Roll Back Malaria Partnership has a Malaria Advocacy Working Group (MAWG) that has as one of its objectives, “to ensure the wide dissemination of accurate information on resource allocations to inform the malaria community of current status and improve accountability both by donors and implementers.”

The MAWG has drawn attention to the wide scope of efforts to enhance malaria funding to support the Global Malaria Action Plan.  In addition to the usual international donors and domestic/government support MAWG points out the need to consider innovative fund raising mechanisms such as UNITAID’s air ticket tax. There is also stress on cost efficiencies with existing funds such as …

  • More effective ways of procuring LLINs
  • Less overlap of LLIN and IRS programs, at least until benefits are proven
  • Rotation of insecticides used for IRS to delay resistance
  • Accelerated availability and appropriate use of RDTs
  • Better understanding of efficiencies of integrated health packages

illustrative-alma-scorecard-sm.jpgThe African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), was formed in November 2006. It has over 100 member journalists in 10 African countries, and is encouraging more journalists to become involved. One of AMMREN’s key Objectives is to advocate for implementation of international agreements on malaria signed by African leaders. Local advocacy becomes even more crucial with CCMs when it comes to future division of Global Fund support among the three diseases, and addition to boosting local counterpart funding.

Arsenio Manhice, an AMREN member and a reporter for the newspaper Notícias based in Maputo, Mozambique provides an example of this advocacy function. He reported on the lack of qualified human resources for malaria work and also spoke of the lack of infrastructure and logistics for indoor residual spraying. These logistical resources are the kind that need major national financial commitments for sustainability.

Both Ethiopia and the US Agency for International Development, according to VOA, are encouraging African countries to adopt a “scorecard that publicly collects and reports health data.” Such a scorecard would track 1) input indicators that relate to policy issues and availability of resources; 2) process indicators; and 3) impact and outcome indicators that outline the data results. This is an important tool for both accountability and advocacy.

A scorecard actually already exists and is maintained by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). The ALMA Scorecard tracks malaria related indicators in the areas of policy, public finance, financial control, commodities, implementation, and impact in addition to what are termed tracer indicators for maternal and child health. This publicly available scorecard enables countries to compare themselves and may serve to boost support for malaria and health programs. An example comparing Rwanda and Angola is seen in the attached chart.

We can conclude from the present situation that funding to sustain the current levels of progress against malaria morbidity and mortality is at risk, even though current levels are possibly only one-third of actual need.  Creative and alternative sources of funding are needed as well as better use of existing resources and greater national financial commitment in endemic countries.  Advocacy for improved malaria financing, while strong in the past, is just entering its most crucial phase.

Time Has Come for Stronger Domestic Funding of Malaria Programs

The changing scene among international donors points to a need to re-evaluate domestic contributions to finance malaria and other health and development programs.  Ethiopia is an example where policy thinking along those lines is underway.  The Voice of America (VOA) points out that, “Ethiopia stands out because it already has reached a 60% reduction in the mortality rate of children under five years old.” This progress has been facilitated by a decade of economic growth. VOA notes that although United States aid contributions to Ethiopia are now being reduced, Ethiopia is considering finding more domestic resources by scaling up a health insurance scheme that has been successfully piloted in thirteen districts.

Ghana has a long experience with its National health Insurance Scheme.  The World Bank reports that …

Ghana spends less than 5 percent of its GDP on health, slightly below average for a country at its income level. According to the 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) National Health Accounts, 47 percent of total health spending in Ghana is private (37 percent paid out of pocket and 10 percent paid by private insurance and other private risk-pooling mechanisms). Of the 53 percent public spending share, the NHIS accounts for some 30 percent of public spending on health and 16 percent of total health spending. According to the NHIS, active membership in 2010 was 8.16 million, some 34 percent of the population. Since 2005, outpatient visits have increased by a factor of 23, inpatient service by a factor of 29, and expenditures by a factor of 40. (Schieber G, Cashin C, Saleh K and Lavado R. Health Financing in Ghana. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2012, Washington DC)

There are some caveats with health insurance. “Although the benefit package of insurance is generous, insured people still incurred out-of-pocket payment for care from informal sources and for uncovered drugs and tests at health facilities. Nevertheless, they paid significantly less than the uninsured.”  In addition ability to pay premiums initially or in subsequent years is a concern. Obviously poorer people are affected more by the premiums, and that was why people were hopeful about Affordable Medicines Facility malaria (AMFm) though out of pocket (OOP) expenditure was still required of the poor. The Global Fund did not cancel AMFm when its Board last met, but it did bundle the concept into existing and future malaria grants should countries wish to do so, leaving this subsidized treatment option, often through the informal private sector, in limbo.

domestic-funding-sm.jpgFunding levels are not the only concern in reaching and sustaining malaria targets. One also needs to concentrate on how the resources are being used. The Guardian recently described how top-down commodity distribution approaches need to be complimented with bottom-up community approaches. Without community understanding and demand net deliveries from donors may sit in warehouses for months and when they reach the community they may be used as fishing nets or even wedding dresses, according to The Guardian.

International partners are quite aware of the need for better use of resources. The World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Program GMP in revising its guidelines for malaria treatment in 2010 stated that, “The scale up of diagnostic testing will improve patient care (and) make more efficient use of scarce resources (emphasis added).”

Overall domestic funding has accounted for about one-fifth of total malaria expenditure in recent years. While this may not be enough, it is this contribution and better use of available funds that may pull us through to 2015.

Malaria Funding from the Perspective of International Donors

The recently released 2012 World Malaria Report (WMR) brought in to focus both malaria progress as well as the charges in malaria funding for the 104 malaria-endemic countries. Increased rates of coverage with vector control and malaria case management measures has mean that 274 million cases and 1.1 million deaths have been averted between 2001 and 2010. Unfortunately, The WMR observes that, “The enormous progress achieved appears to have slowed recently. International funding for malaria control has leveled off, and is projected to remain substantially below” projected needs.

We are not talking about small amounts of money or minor contributions to date. The WRM reports that, “The past decade has witnessed tremendous expansion in the financing and implementation of malaria control programmes. International disbursements for malaria control rose steeply from less than US$ 100 million in 2000 to US$ 1.71 billion in 2010 and were estimated to be US$ 1.66 billion in 2011 and US$ 1.84 billion in 2012.” This must be put in context with amounts estimated to be needed to achieve universal coverage (including use) of the major prevention and treatment interventions.

The WMR explains that “The enormous progress achieved appears to have slowed recently.” As noted above international funding for malaria control has leveled off, and “is projected to remain substantially below the US$ 5.1 billion” annually required to achieve and maintain universal coverage of malaria interventions. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership has estimated a higher projected annual need. “Resource requirements for global malaria prevention, control and elimination were estimated in the GMAP (Global Malaria Action Plan) to amount to some US$6.1 billion annually between 2012 and 2015.” This figure includes both program management costs as well as research needed to develop new tools.

The link between funding and coverage is clear in the WMR. The number of ITNs procured in 2012 (66 million) is far lower than in 2011 (92 million) and 2010 (145 million). “With the average useful life of ITNs estimated to be 2 to3 years, ITN coverage is expected to decrease if ITNs are not replaced in 2013.” Recent reports from a regional malaria elimination meeting in Kigali show that replacement time may be even shorter, possibly every 18-24 months based on local use and environmental conditions.

When identifying what is happening in malaria financing, it is important to recognize that there are relatively few direct donors. Major international malaria funders accounting for over 90% of donor financing are Global Fund, US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Department for International Development (DfID), World Bank, and AusAid. Others include bilateral assistance, corporate donors and foundations.

international-funding-sm.jpgThe Global Fund as an entity and as the sum of its country contributors shocked the malaria and global health communities in 2011 when it announced the cancellation of its Round 11 of annual funding. The situation was complex and reflected weak financial pledging and inputs as well as internal management issues. The new funding approach was discussed in the WMR.  There are some uncertainties causing concern for the malaria community.

According to the 2012 WMR, “countries will be grouped by the Global Fund into Country Bands based upon a composite score which is a combination of a country’s GNI and its disease burden. Then there will be a “global disease split (i.e. 52% for HIV, 32% for malaria and16% for TB), until a new formula is determined, the Board,” that will be combined with a split according to Bands.  Finally actual allocation decisions will be made by the country coordination mechanisms (CCMs).  Malaria appears to be in greater direct competition with the other two diseases than what obtained in the past.  How other donors will compensate for any country shortfalls is unknown at present.

One possible implication of bands is that there may be less focus on lower burden countries that are heading toward malaria elimination.  Just because disease burden is low, or becomes low due to effective intervention does not mean that funding is not needed. Continued surveillance and case containment activities are not cheap, and require constant vigilance and sustained efforts since not all of one’s neighboring countries are at the same stage of malaria elimination.