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.