WHO commends the Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s contribution to global progress as governing board disbands secretariat
The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, established in 1998 as part of a global drive to galvanize stronger action to curb malaria, is to restructure to meet the new challenges posed in the post-2015 era whilst building on the success of the last 17 years. In light of this restructuring and continued financial difficulties, the governing board has recommended disbanding the current RBM secretariat hosted by WHO in Geneva.
Over the past 17 years, the global burden of malaria has decreased significantly. Through the expansion of anti-malaria efforts, over 6 million deaths were averted, primarily among children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. The malaria-focused target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which calls for halting and beginning to reduce the incidence of malaria by 2015, has been achieved. RBM has made an important contribution to this achievement, helping forge consensus between partners, mobilizing resources, and catalysing action.
However, malaria continues to pose a major public health challenge. As of 2015, there were more than 200 million malaria cases and more than 400,000 malaria deaths worldwide. More than 3 billion people are still at risk of infection in 97 countries and territories. The disease remains heavily concentrated in low-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
As the MDG era gives way to the new global development framework set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), new approaches are being introduced.
In May this year, governments endorsed WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030, a new technical road map for countries that are working to reverse and eliminate the spread of malaria. The strategy was released alongside RBM’s parallel advocacy plan, Action and investment to defeat malaria 2016-2030. Together, these documents set ambitious targets for malaria control, including a 90% reduction in global malaria incidence and mortality.
To reach these targets, global funding will need to triple from current levels. New structures are needed to engage key stakeholders, mobilize global action and generate the required financial commitments.
Further discussions regarding RBM’s restructuring will take place, notably at the next board meeting, planned for October.
Meanwhile, WHO remains committed to fulfilling its leading role in the fight against malaria, setting global policy and targets, establishing norms and standards, monitoring the global burden and response, and expanding and strengthening technical support to Member States.
RBM partners include WHO and other UN entities, notably UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank, as well as foundations, private sector entities, non-governmental organizations, research and academic institutions, and development partners.