Dr. Ken Staley’s Quarterly Message

Jan 31, 2020 |

Happy New Year!

As I reflect on the past year, I’m heartened by the continued progress that was made in the fight against malaria thanks to collective global action. I’m also re-energized having seen the global malaria community come together with renewed purpose and commitment to ending this disease once and for all. 

A few highlights:

  • The 2019 World Malaria Report estimated there were 228 million malaria cases and 405,000 deaths in 2018—down from 2017 and significantly below the estimated 321 million cases and 995,000 deaths expected if malaria incidence had remained at 2000 levels. 
  • The Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication issued its landmark report, which examined the major operational, biological, and financial challenges on the path to eradication, and laid out a roadmap that will enable the global malaria community to bend the curve and achieve a world free of malaria within a generation.
  • A successful Global Fund replenishment—including continued support from the U.S. Government and increased commitments from malaria-endemic countries—added momentum and ensured critical resources will be available to continue the malaria fight.
  • Continued bipartisan support from Congress and American taxpayers for the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), including a $15 million funding increase for fiscal year 2020 to help mitigate the threat of insecticide resistance.

As a result, 2020–which also happens to be the 15th anniversary of the creation of PMI—promises to be another exciting year with millions more cases prevented and lives saved. But there’s still much work to be done if we are to realize our shared vision of a world without malaria. 

What can PMI and the global community do in the year ahead to accelerate progress against malaria? In addition to leveraging the power of data to better respond to on-the-ground conditions and more precisely target interventions, I propose the following:

  • Continue to prioritize reaching pregnant women and young children, who are at highest risk for severe malaria (with children under age five still accounting for more than two-thirds of all malaria deaths), and further strengthen prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for these vulnerable groups. 
  • Augment our collective capacity to bring care directly to people who have limited access to health facilities, by expanding community health worker training and community-based interventions such as integrated community case management.
  • Intensify our efforts to combat insecticide resistance, by rolling out next-generation mosquito nets with new combinations of insecticides, and continuing to monitor resistance so we know precisely when and where these new tools are needed most.
  • Build on recent successes in the Greater Mekong Subregion (where antimalarial drug resistance is currently concentrated), with the goal of eliminating malaria in that region within the next 5 to 10 years, thus reducing the risk of further spread of resistance.

I welcome your thoughts on these ideas as well as other suggestions you may have, as PMI would not be the success it is without its country counterparts, implementing partners, and many other collaborators. Thank you, and I look forward to our continued work together in the year ahead.

 

Sincerely,

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Ken Staley, MD
U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator

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