Malaria has plagued humanity for thousands of years. Caused by a tiny parasite that is transported from person to person by a certain type of mosquito, the disease poses a risk to almost half of the world's population.
The WHO attempted to eradicate malaria in the 1960s Although she was able to rid the disease of many countries, she was behind the target because of the growing resistance to drugs and lack of attention to Africa. Each year on World Malaria Day, April 25, the malaria family celebrates the progress made so far and focuses on the challenges ahead. This year is particularly exciting as last Friday, 53 Commonwealth leaders committed to halve 2023 Malaria across the Commonwealth.
Since 2000, the number of malaria deaths per year has been reduced by more than half. But the 201
As long as the malaria persists, other challenges in health and human development are not only unsolved, but worsened – continuing a cycle of illnesses, poverty and conflict. Here are three things the world needs to do to make malaria a reminder.
. 1 Development and application of new mapping technologies
Advances in information and communication technology are rarely adequately applied to global health challenges, including the elimination of malaria. To make progress here, donors and programs must be persuaded to pay attention to the potential of these instruments and to focus technology companies on developing their products for consumers in developing countries.
How do malaria control programs know? reach every household in an area with the life-saving interventions that people need? By assigning the location of each household. The traditional way of doing this – making a map by physically visiting every house in an area – is both extremely time consuming and expensive.
Technological advances make this process faster and easier. When you open Google Maps to see the streets of Seattle or Tokyo or Paris, you can see detailed outline of buildings and information about the companies operating in the area. If you stand on a road in rural Laos, where many communities are currently not on maps, that's a very different picture.
A year ago, it was not possible to accurately identify buildings in many parts of the world. But machine learning algorithms have expanded the efforts of the polio eradication program, and this technology is now being applied to the elimination of malaria in southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America.
It underscores the importance of making satellite imagery – and scientific data in general – freely accessible so that the brightest minds in the world can solve our trickiest problems.
. 2 Bringing together exceptional financial resources Innovation partners
Financing measures to combat malaria can have an impact on health systems.
When a country eliminates malaria, employees can focus on other common diseases in their vector control and laboratory programs. However, if a country's health system is too weak to effectively detect and respond to outbreaks – especially those like Zika or even Ebola, which have fever as their main symptom – it threatens global health security worldwide. We saw this during the Ebola crisis in West Africa, where the outbreak has caused a massive resurgence of malaria because the health care system was overwhelmed and unable to handle even routine health problems.
It is important to raise enough funds for a eradication program that will help build and strengthen health systems. We currently have only half of the estimated $ 6 billion needed each year to fight malaria. This does not include the funding of research and development necessary to constantly produce new insecticides and medicines to resist the resistance.
That's why we can not think of innovation just in terms of developing new tools. Innovation in delivery means bringing together the right mix of (often untraditional) partners to solve problems in the right direction.
One example is the Davos Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative for Mesoamerica and the Dominican Republic. This is an important milestone, as the malaria family is the first to use a blending mechanism involving lending from countries, loans and international donors to finance operations. Why not extend this mechanism to other regions?
. 3 Targeting the places most at risk of malaria
Malaria is a disease of inequality and often targets the most vulnerable populations. A one-fits-all approach is not enough. As the number of cases of malaria in countries is lower, the disease will no longer be distributed evenly nationwide, and governments will have to scale their programs to smaller and smaller geographical areas.
This is harder than it sounds. Malaria continues to consist of a complex dynamic between several factors: the parasites that cause the disease, the mosquito species that transmit parasites to humans, the environment in which people live, how well the interventions work in different environments, and the health systems all in one certain country.
Countries need to have timely information about all of these factors, and then use mathematical models and analysis to control programs in different places. I am currently working in Haiti and working with the National Program and a consortium of partners, which proves to be an example of data-driven decision-making and accelerates the timeline for elimination.
With the help of these tools and methods, governments can save money by ensuring that interventions target those places most at risk of malaria. We learn from previous eradication programs; This is the technique that has been successfully used in smallpox control and is now being used by the global polio eradication program.
For malaria to continue to decline, the world can not continue as before. Now is the time to use all available resources to finally get rid of malaria.