Ridding Asia Pacific of malaria by 2030 achievable with $6 million Australian government funding boost
Mr. Bill Bowtell, Executive Director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has warmly endorsed the Turnbull government’s plan to rid the Asia Pacific of malaria by 2030.
At the East Asia Summit held in Kuala Lumpur over the past weekend, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the Australian government will provide an additional $6 million towards the East Asian regional plan to eradicate malaria from the Asia Pacific.
“The Prime Minister’s commitment is both practical and visionary. The eradication of malaria will not only save millions of people from preventable suffering and early death, but also provides a stimulus to economic growth and promotes health security for our friends and neighbours”, said Mr. Bowtell. “We hope that Prime Minister Turnbull will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA) in order to oversee the implementation of this exceptional policy commitment”.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease. It is preventable and treatable, however it still claims over 50,000 lives each year in the Asia Pacific region.
“Between 2000 and 2013, thanks to increased funding and better strategies, the global malaria mortality rate has fallen by almost 50%, but we are seeing the emergence of new forms of drug-resistant malaria, especially in the Mekong region”.
This presents new challenges, but with increased funding of new treatments and preventive measures, eradication of malaria in the Mekong region is now an achievable goal.
Malaria – at a glance
- Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes.
- If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.
- Malaria is preventable and treatable.
- Malaria claims over 50,000 lives each year in the Asia Pacific region and 600,000 globally.
- New drug-resistant forms of malaria are emerging, especially in the Mekong region.
- Preventive measures like the use of insecticide and mosquito nets have helped reduce mortality from malaria.
- Improved funding and strategies reduced the global malaria mortality rate by almost 48% between 2000 and 2013.
- Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. In 2013 over three-quarters of all malaria deaths were in children under the age of five.
Half of the world’s population remains vulnerable to malaria. The Global Fund is a 21st-century partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases. The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.
Prevention involves the distribution of insecticide-treated nets, the use of indoor residual spraying of households and, if appropriate, interventions targeting the larval stages of the mosquito. For example, in Sri Lanka, larvivorous (larvae-eating) fish were introduced to bodies of water where mosquitoes normally breed. Through the middle of 2015, programs supported by the Global Fund had distributed 548 million nets to protect families. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated net halves malaria cases among children.
As of mid 2015, programs supported by the Global Fund had provided 515 million treatments for malaria. In the last decade, we have seen the introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), a new generation of antimalarial treatment that are highly effective. Unfortunately, however, we are already seeing resistance to the key ingredient, artemisinin, (as well as the partner drugs) develop in certain parts of the world. This is one of the great challenges facing us in the fight against malaria.
Dr Andrew Southcott MP, Member for Boothby, was one of seven Australian Member of Parliament to travel to Vietnam to witness programs funded by the Global Fund. Members from Government and Opposition were able to see how funds were being used to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB within Vietnam and the region.
The mid-2015 results reported by the Global Fund show progress in the response to TB. In the past year, 1.3 million new smear-positive TB cases were detected and treated, bringing the total to 13.2 million. People treated for MDR-TB rose 55 percent in the past year to reach 210,000.
University of California San Francisco – News Center
By Jeff Sheehy
(left) A Kenyan farmer stands in a field of irrigated crops made possible by intervention program Shamba Maisha. Photo by Rachel Steinfeld
(right) A group of Kenyan farmers standing with co-primary investigator Craig R. Cohen (right) and co-investigator Rachel L. Steinfeld (center)
A multifaceted farming intervention can reduce food insecurity while improving HIV outcomes in patients in Kenya, according to a randomized, controlled trial led by researchers at UC San Francisco.
The study found that participants in the intervention arm, who received agricultural and financial support, were able to increase the quantity and quality of food consumed. At the same time, their CD4 T-cell counts increased and their rate of viral suppression increased by about one half. In contrast, both the CD4 cell counts and the rate of suppression fell for those in the control arm.
“While this was a pilot study, these results prove the concept that improving food insecurity and alleviating poverty can affect HIV clinical outcomes,” said the trial’s co-primary investigator, Sheri D. Weiser, MD, MPH, UCSF associate professor of medicine at the UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where 24.7 million people are living with HIV (71 percent of all people living with HIV), 240 million people are food insecure. Food insecurity increases the risk of becoming infected with HIV and food insecure people with HIV are less able to take anti-HIV therapies and make clinic visits, and have poorer nutritional status. Together, those issues make treating and preventing HIV more difficult, leading to sicker patients and more deaths. In turn, once someone is infected with HIV, food insecurity gets worse due to loss of economic activity and productivity, loss of social support due to HIV stigma and the costs of medical care.
“HIV/AIDS and food insecurity are intertwined in a vicious cycle, with each increasing vulnerability to and exacerbating the severity of the other,” Weiser said. “We have the biomedical tools to treat and prevent HIV, but we need interventions like this that combine healthcare with development, and address food insecurity, poverty and disempowerment if we are to achieve the UNAIDS goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
The trial, conducted over one year at two Family AIDS Care & Education Services (FACES) health facilities in the Nyanza region in Kenya, enrolled 72 participants at one facility for the intervention group and 68 at the other facility for the control group. Participants were HIV positive individuals between 18 and 49 years old on anti-HIV therapy and all had access to surface water for irrigation and land.
The intervention, titled Shamba Maisha, Swahili for “Farm Life,” had three components. Microfinance loans were provided by and managed by Adok Timo, a Kenyan microfinance organization, with support from the two collaborating partners in FACES: UCSF and the Kenyan Medical Research Institute. These loans were used to purchase farming implements and supplies along with manual irrigation pumps designed by KickStart, a non-profit organization that develops and markets new technologies that are used to establish new small businesses.
“The pumps make it possible for farmers to irrigate year round, which reduced dependence on seasonal rainfalls. Producing food year round enables farmers to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming and also allows them to capture higher crop prices during the dry season,” said the trial’s co-primary investigator, Craig R. Cohen, MD, MPH, UCSF professor in the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
The third element was agricultural and financial management training. Agricultural training included practical demonstrations on sustainable farming techniques, use of the water pump, planting, soil and water conservation, and integrated disease and pest management. Financial training focused on record keeping, along with savings and investments.
“Shamba Maisha is the first trial to link agriculture with HIV outcomes,” Cohen said. “The intervention is unique in that it is sustainable, transformative and empowering. If you were to take away our involvement tomorrow, the knowledge and materials to continue the livelihood intervention would still exist in the community.”
Global Fund News Flash 06 August 2015
Global health partners in the fight against malaria welcomed news that the European Medicines Agency last month offered a positive scientific opinion on malaria candidate vaccine RTS,S. The decision marks a further significant step towards the availability of a vaccine against a disease that causes 584,000 deaths per year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In a joint blog, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the vaccine can potentially save many lives, further reducing the disease’s impact, alongside mosquito nets treated with insecticide, indoor spraying, prompt diagnostic testing and effective anti-malarial medicines. Dr. Berkley and Dr. Dybul also said the partial protection of the vaccine means that more trials are needed to get clarity on its effectiveness and the issues around a booster dose. “The best way to get any clarity on these issues is to see how the vaccine performs in a real-life setting, in high and low transmission areas, with and without high coverage of other interventions,” they wrote.
The Global Fund partnership will continue to work together with partners to plan for the possible use of a malaria vaccine — if recommended by the World Health Organization and if the Global Fund Board decides to support the vaccine in conjunction with other proven malaria interventions, as part of an integrated approach towards malaria control. Huge progress has been made against malaria in recent years, with the number of deaths caused by the insect-borne disease declining by 34 percent between 2000 and 2013, the result of a massive increase in domestic and international funding. The Global Fund partnership believes that ending malaria requires a comprehensive approach and continued commitment from all partners.
Australian Liberal Party MP, Hon Dr Sharman Stone, Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid sub-committee, was one of seven Members of Parliament to visit Vietnam between 28 June – 4 July 2015 to see the direct results achieved through funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The delegation traveled to the rural province of Tây Ninh, to a village where only a few years prior, children were dying of malaria each day.
There are still over 650,000 deaths caused by malaria every year. It is a disease that mainly affects young children. But thanks to Australia’s contribution to the Global Fund, more than 548-Million insecticide treated mosquito nets have been distributed globally; nearly 38-Million nets in the South East Asia Region.
Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.