Eliminating malaria requires regional approach and research
In the Journal of Global Infectious Diseases, an article on how to complete the final stage of malaria elimination recommends the use of a surge, or massive scale-up of funding and support. The authors representing TDR, the WHO Global Malaria Programme and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, summarize the main tools that are currently not being utilized efficiently. In Africa, few countries have achieved greater than 50% coverage of households using at least one insecticide-treated bednet; less than 20% of malaria suspected cases are identified through diagnostic testing; and less than half of pregnant women at antenatal clinics receive intermittent pregnancy treatment. The authors argue that if these tools were fully utilized in countries with a high burden of malaria, the global malaria burden would shrink substantially.
However, this massive scale-up requires a number of supports. The authors suggest subregional coalitions to "forge networking and implement malaria interventions as united fronts." They recommend that all countries seeking operational funding from donors like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria should be required to include a research component that strengthens the health system and provides evidence about what works and what does not. One way to do this would be to support centres of excellence for this type of research that are recognized within the countries and regions, and to also support independent scientists with a proven track record of research that informs the policy and practice of malaria control programmes.
For more information, contact Dr Andrew Kitua