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.

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