Dr. Roly Gosling, MEG member and Lead of the Malaria Elimination Initiative at the Global Health Group was interviewed for a January 17 Huffington Post Impact blog entitled Here I Am: Focus on Malaria Elimination — an Interview with Dr. Roly Gosling. The piece highlights malaria elimination as a crucial public health goal and discusses the differences between malaria control, elimination and eradication. Gosling says: "In short: the job isn't finished. Elimination requires a long-term investment, and discontinuing financial support now will leave countries at major risk for resurgence. Billions of dollars have been spent and millions of lives have been saved; it is critical that we sustain our commitment and investment in both high and low burden countries to help them get the job done."
On July 13th, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Bob Carr announced that Australia will convene an international malaria conference from October 31 to November 2, 2012. Titled â€śMalaria 2012: Saving Lives in the Asia Pacific,â€ť the conference will focus on the immense progress achieved in malaria control and elimination in the region â€“ as well as the critical challenges that the Asia Pacific still faces.
On April 25, 2012, World Malaria Day 2012 was celebrated across the globe. This year’s theme — Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria — marks a decisive point in time: will sustained investment in control and elimination efforts continue to shrink the malaria map or will fragile gains be lost due to reductions in international funding? Numerous events were held around the world to commemorate the global effort toward effective control and elimination of malaria.
In 2007, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization. Even after achieving this remarkable milestone, significant effort is required to maintain a malaria-free environment and prevent resurgence. UAE is surrounded by malaria-endemic countries such as Yemen and Iran, and employs a large number of migrant workers which increases the chance for reintroduction of malaria. Continued vigilance and robust surveillance efforts are required for the UAE to remain malaria-free.
International researchers have developed an innovative tool to teach the fundamentals of epidemiology through the use of a simulated computer game. The game is based on the concept of infectious disease modeling and simulates how diseases like malaria spread through a population. In a low transmission setting where malaria infection becomes context-specific, this teaching tool can be helpful to understand the differences in transmission and what measures could be taken to prevent outbreaks.
The Ministry of Health in Indonesia is targeting the island of Java for malaria elimination by 2015. Java, with a population of more than 135 million, is the world’s most populous island and one of the most densely-populated places on the globe. Strategies to reduce malaria include distributing bed nets and rapid diagnostic tests, and disseminating malaria prevention messages. Indonesia is a Country Partner in the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network and has declared a national goal of malaria elimination by 2030.
A recent publication in The Lancet by Chris Murray and colleagues at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) suggests that malaria may kill twice as many people worldwide as previously estimated. Using verbal autopsy reports where official death reports were unavailable, researchers estimated that global malaria deaths in 2010 totaled 1.2 million – nearly double what the World Health Organization estimated for the same year. The paper concluded that deaths have dramatically declined, down from an estimated 1.8 million in 2004, a result of increased funding for malaria. With continued attention and investment in preventing malaria deaths, additional progress will be achieved.
Professor Bill Brieger of the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins University and frequent blogger on malaria elimination has reported extensively on recent malaria meetings from around the world. From Thailand, Bill reported on the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) community engagement for malaria elimination workshop which reviewed lessons from 60 years of community participation in disease control and elimination. More recently, Professor Brieger blogged from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting in Philadelphia and highlighted sessions on malaria elimination including a presentation on South Africa’s work towards strengthening their malaria information systems.
A celebration of the fifth annual Malaria Day in the Americas was recently held at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and honored several malaria programs in the region for their successful efforts to reduce deaths and illness from malaria. Launched in 2007, Malaria Day in the Americas seeks to raise awareness, build commitment and mobilize action to advance malaria goals and targets as the region works towards elimination. In the last 10 years, the number of cases in the region has declined 52 percent, and the number of deaths has declined 68 percent. With this progress and with continued efforts to reach all at-risk populations, countries will be able to continue to shrink the regional malaria map.
A recent publication by MEG members Kent Campbell and Rick Steketee in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene argues that through the use of today’s interventions and augmented in the future with newer tools such as vaccines, malaria in Africa can be eliminated. Dramatic success over the past decade has been achieved through the scale up of interventions such as bed nets, indoor residual spraying, diagnostics and effective antimalarial medicines. Malaria elimination in Africa is feasible; however, sustained political and financial commitment is critical if the gains are to be maintained.
The Tajikistan Ministry of Health recently hosted a conference on the elimination of malaria with representatives and experts from other Central Asian countries. The conference aims were to analyze the region’s progress towards elimination and discuss further steps needed to achieve elimination by 2015, which was declared in 2005 through The Tashkent Declaration on Malaria Elimination. A resolution was agreed upon for: strengthened cross-border cooperation; timely exchange of information on malaria especially in border areas; and, for regular meetings on analyzing experiences on eliminating and preventing the reintroduction of malaria.
Latin America experiences nearly one million malaria cases annually, and has less than 10% of the entire global at-risk population. A number of factors contribute to continued transmission in this region such as rapid deforestation, drug and insecticide resistance, political instability and inadequate agricultural practices. To address these challenges, a new research center established for the non-Amazonian region of Latin America, Centro Latino Americano de Investigación en Malaria (CLAIM), will address major gaps in the understanding of changing malaria epidemiology. In close partnership with National Malaria Programs, the research conducted will be a basis for developing and implementing new strategies to accelerate progress towards elimination in the region.