A recent editorial by MEG member Larry Slutsker and colleagues from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) draws attention to recent reports from Southeast Asia that shows early signs of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Authors highlight the urgent need to eliminate ACT-resistant malaria before it spreads to other parts of the world, namely sub-Saharan Africa, which would be detrimental to the impressive progress the continent has made in reducing its malaria burden.
Science Magazine recently published nine articles on malaria in a special issue that reviews the current malaria situation and draws attention to the progress achieved in malaria control and elimination efforts. The special issue highlights the remarkable successes in parts of Africa, including the enormous challenges that remain, and examines how the eradication agenda has changed since Bill and Melinda Gates made their historic call for eradication. The special issue also reviews emerging drug resistance in Southeast Asia, malaria vaccine possibilities, and explores the debate over how to best fight malaria, including a close look at malaria elimination on Hispaniola.
A recent comment in The Lancet Infectious Diseases supports the bold call to action by the Carter Center for malaria elimination on the island of Hispaniola. The authors cite several studies conducted on Hispaniola that should be considered in developing an elimination strategy. The article goes on to discuss why a rigorous elimination strategy with a timely approach is desperately needed. Hispaniola is the last island in the Caribbean with endemic transmission of Plasmodium falciparum, and elimination may provide valuable information to other similar P. falciparum endemic settings, such as in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
A new report from the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership confirms that current investment in malaria control is saving lives and providing far-reaching benefits for countries. The report, which was authored by WHO, UNICEF and PATH, is the first in a new series of reports launched by the RBM Partnership to benchmark progress towards RBM targets and the Millennium Development Goals. Global financing for malaria control efforts has increased significantly over the last decade. With sustained and predictable funding, these investments will continue to save lives and reduce illness, and ultimately provide countries the opportunity to eliminate malaria.
Malaria Eliminators of the Asia Pacific Meet in Sri Lanka
From February 16 – 19, 2010, participants from country malaria programs and partner institutions gathered in Kandy, Sri Lanka for the second annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN). Although the Asia Pacific region suffers from a significant portion of the world’s malaria burden, considerable progress in malaria control has been achieved, leading ten countries to make a national commitment to elimination: Bhutan, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu. Thailand and India (Goa State) have also made commitments to sub-national elimination. APMEN aims to support these countries’ malaria elimination efforts through collaborative activities, including information sharing, evidence gathering, capacity building and advocacy. Participants used this second meeting of the Network to discuss region-specific technical issues and develop an action-oriented work plan for the coming year.
Major funding for APMEN is provided by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). APMEN is coordinated by a Joint-Secretariat, formed by the University of Queensland, Australia, and the Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco, and works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO). More information is available at apmen.org.
Towards Malaria Elimination – A New Thematic Series
The Malaria Journal's series - "Towards Malaria Elimination" - welcomes original papers, reviews, commentaries and opinion pieces on malaria elimination and eradication, and hopes that this mix of scientific information and debate will catalyze and dynamize the move towards more intensified control and progressive malaria elimination within a spirit of mutual learning for change. For its launch, the thematic series includes one comment written by the editors of the series and two scientific papers:
A recent editorial written by Chief Editor Richard Horton of The Lancet remarked that 2010 will be an especially important year to build a cohesive global coalition to support malaria control and elimination efforts. In a recent health lecture at the United Kingdom Academy of Medical Sciences, Dr. Nicholas White and Dr. Kevin Marsh debated the prospects and opportunities in eliminating malaria. To outline this debate more precisely, The Lancet and the Malaria Elimination Group are working together to produce and publish a special issue on malaria elimination in The Lancet in 2010.
The 58th annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) meeting was held in Washington, D.C. from November 18 – 22, 2009. Scientists, clinicians and program professionals from across the globe gathered to present the latest research on tropical medicine and hygiene. Delegates discussed topics including malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis, water, sanitation and hygiene, and other neglected tropical diseases. Malaria sessions covered topics on drugs, insecticides, and vaccines, as well as eradication, elimination, resistance, and expanding access to interventions. The ASTMH was founded in 1903 and is a worldwide organization of public health scientists, clinicians and program professionals whose mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor. The 59th annual ASTMH meeting will be held in Atlanta, GA from November 3 - 7, 2010.
The Fifth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Malaria Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya from November 1 – 6, 2009. The world’s largest malaria conference brought together more than 1,500 scientists, policymakers, health care workers, community members and other malaria experts. Participants discussed the latest research on drugs, insecticides, and vaccines, and other topics including eradication, elimination, resistance, and expanding access to interventions. MIM conferences happen every three years, and this year’s meeting is the first to be hosted by an African organization, the African Malaria Network Trust (AMANET).
The 59th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda from August 31 – September 4, 2009, adopted four resolutions aimed at scaling up action to improve the health situation on the continent. Of the four resolutions, the Committee adopted a resolution to accelerate progress towards malaria elimination in Africa. Countries have been called upon to integrate malaria control in their national plans, support ongoing research initiatives, strengthen national health information systems, and invest more in health promotion and education.
A comment in CNN’s Vital Signs, written by Dr. Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, describes the enormous impact that malaria control efforts have had in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Yamada traveled with the Director General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Mr. Ray Chambers, to observe Africa’s fight against malaria. Dr. Yamada was especially impressed by the progress in Zanzibar, which has been so remarkable that the disease has been virtually eliminated in just five years.
A special report by the GlobalPost, “The Bug Wars: Fighting malaria,” investigates the latest fronts of this deadly disease - from India, Indonesia, Colombia, Mozambique, and South Africa - and discusses the promising treatments that aim to eliminate malaria.