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Ending malaria: A priority in the Western Pacific

Ending malaria: A priority in the Western Pacific Region

MANILA, 22 April 2016 – On World Malaria Day (25 April), the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region calls on governments and partners to accelerate malaria control and elimination efforts in the Region and beyond by 2030.

“WHO, Member States and partners are working together to make sure we have strong systems in place to end malaria in the Region. Joint action will make a real difference for affected communities as the disease burden decreases,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

The Western Pacific Region has made significant progress, achieving targets for malaria reduction under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in nine out of 10 malaria-affected countries. Malaria-related deaths have been reduced by over 90% and prevalence by over 75% in eight out of 10 countries.

However, the disease still exerts an enormous toll, not only in lives, but also in medical costs and labor and economic output lost. It undermines the growth and development for millions of people in the Region. Although achievement of MDG-related targets has lowered the malaria burden, the fight against malaria is far from over. Control and elimination efforts must accelerate in the Region to ensure that hard-fought gains are not lost.

Key to this would be through ensuring that prevention and treatment services are available for all people at risk. Recent cutbacks by major donors have already compelled some countries to scale back on coverage, significantly increasing the risk of malaria resurgence.

Globally, an estimated 3.2 billion people remain at risk of malaria infection, with 1.2 billion at high risk. In the Western Pacific Region, more than 700 million people are still at risk of malaria. This is nearly a quarter of the global population estimated to be at risk. Approximately 41 million of these 700 million are at high risk of malaria infection.

For example, malaria transmission remains high in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the southern provinces of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities and migrant workers, especially in the Lao provinces. The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) also faces the challenge of multidrug-resistant malaria, affecting Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam.

At the East Asia summit last year, heads of government approved a road map for a malaria-free Asia-Pacific region by 2030. The road map includes the provision of political leadership and sustainable financing necessary to operationalize the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 within the Asia-Pacific Region.

Since the development of the Greater Mekong Subregion Malaria Elimination Strategy for 2015–2030, GMS Member States have completed updating and aligning their national strategic plans, aimed at rapidly eliminating drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum.

Strategic Direction for accelerating control and elimination

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 (GTS) includes the following three pillars for accelerating control and elimination:
• universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions
• accelerating efforts towards elimination and attainment of malaria-free status
• the transformation of malaria surveillance into a core intervention.

The GTS also identifies the following two enabling factors:

• harnessing innovation and expanding research; and
• strengthening enabling environment.

Working together we can End malaria for good, the theme for World Malaria Day 2016 which captures our common vision for a malaria-free world.

Related links:

World Malaria Day 2016
http://www.who.int/entity/campaigns/malaria-day/2016/event/en/index.html

World Malaria Report 2015
http://www.who.int/entity/malaria/publications/world-malaria-report-2015/report/en/index.html

Health topic: Malaria
http://www.who.int/topics/malaria/en/index.html

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