BAAM Members Convene in New Orleans Alongside ASTMH
Members of the Business Alliance Against Malaria convened alongside the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene’s 67th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States. The meeting was held on 31 October, and welcomed 15 participants, including Alliance members, representatives from the RBM Partnership’s Secretariat, and prospective Alliance members. The meeting was facilitated by Mario Ottiglio, Focal Point for the Business Alliance Against Malaria, and by its co-chairs, Sherwin Charles & Caroline Desrousseaux.
The meeting opened with an update on the Alliance’s 2018 activities and accomplishments:
Adoption and launch a new identify, evolving from the PSMC to the Business Alliance Against Malaria
Development of an Alliance narrative, priorities, website, and supporting marketing collateral to advance the Alliance’s goals
A public commitment to malaria elimination at the Ready Malaria Summit in London
Hosted a side-event at the World Malaria Congress in Melbourne
As the meeting progressed, the group was able to engage in a lengthy and productive discussion with Joshua Levens, Manager of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization at the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. Conversation centered on the finalization of a new Memorandum of Understanding between RBM and BAAM, solidifying BAAM as the official private sector platform for engagement with the RBM Partnership, as well as on the RBM Partnership’s new Private Sector Engagement Strategy. He provided the Alliance with an overview of the recommendations for private sector engagement to be presented at the November 2018 RBM Board Meeting:
Formalizing the relationship between BAAM and the RBM Partnership
Identifying a private sector engagement approach in 11 top “target” countries
Invest in adequate Secretarial resources for supporting enhanced private sector engagement
The group also discussed a new “Signature Initiative”—a public-private partnership to mobilize resources and raise awareness in the fight against malaria. As a next step, the Focal Point team is developing an official Concept Note for the initiative, and members are soliciting the input of their internal design and communications teams to support the development of pitch collateral for use in presenting the opportunity to potential partners.
The meeting closed with a discussion on governance and 2019 priorities, with members agreeing to finalize a 2019 workplan, including a close working partnership with the RBM Partnership, during the BAAM Q4 teleconference on 11 December, 2018. Many members chose to travel to Frenchman Street to participate in the Halloween Parade, in full super-hero garb as befitting the “BAAM! Alliance”—photo evidence of our Co-Chairs in costume included!
Tracking the Fight Against Malaria: Dealing with Data
That feeling of relief when your GPS is instantly able to find a new route to your destination, even if you made a wrong turn – again – is priceless. Data has become omnipresent in our daily lives, seamlessly integrated into our day-to-day activities. We are willing to pay extra to live stream sports events, download movies during flights, and even request our next meal for delivery. But, despite all of this connectivity, gaps remain.
Progress in data connectivity and utilization has been uneven—while consumer-facing companies have been quick to integrate data into their processes and offerings, health systems have not enjoyed the same acceleration. According to the new World Malaria Report, the data indicates that reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally. Dr. Tedros said it very clearly at the May 2018’s World Health Assembly: we need to drive impact through the strategic use of information.
But, what does that look like?
The Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 calls for the transformation of malaria surveillance into a core intervention both in malaria-endemic countries and in those countries that have eliminated malaria but remain susceptible to re-establishment of transmission. Surveillance systems should comprise myriad tools and resources, including the people, procedures, tools and structures necessary to generate information on malaria cases and deaths. For all public health services, the most effective surveillance systems include the adequate allocation of resources to planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluation.
Regrettably, according to the World Malaria Report, malaria surveillance is weakest in countries with the highest burden making accurate assessment and intervention planning even more difficult. On average, 60 percent of countries report adequate malaria surveillance. However, these numbers are likely to be overestimated in several countries due to unreliable measurements. And, compounding the issue, on the extreme end, many of the countries with lower reporting rates also demonstrate some of the lowest confirmation and treatment seeking rates.
So, what are we doing about it?
Initially, we must identify key data gaps. Data from hotspot mapping is being used to help pinpoint areas of most need. One study found that human movement played a significant role in the risk of hotspot membership. Another determined that parasitic prevalence in the blood was predictive of infection a year later using geospatial models. This implies that better understanding of human dynamics could help mitigate malaria. With this in mind, the Global Fund has also provided further funding to support surveillance systems through its catalytic funding mechanisms. They have designated $20 million alone for project with the objectives to: strengthen health information systems and surveillance; enable country systems to collect, report on and use data; support program impact and thematic evaluations and epidemiological reviews. Additionally, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative has included improving countries’ capacity to collect and use information as one of its five core areas of strategic focus, and it has since scaled up funding support in this area.
While these efforts from public and multilateral partners are encouraging, the private sector’s support will ultimately be critical: private sector partners can assist in facilitating and informing reporting efforts and smoothing referral and training linkages between the public and private sectors. Additionally, the private sector can invest in data management and tracking systems to make supply chains more efficient and more secure, ensuring increased coverage of parasitological testing and the removal of non-artemisinin therapies from the marketplace. Private sector providers can also be organized and better engaged through social franchising, effective regulation, professional organizations and government outreach. This multifaceted approach is endorsed by the WHO in partnership with RBM, which offers its new country-driven “high burden to high impact” approach to get the global malaria response back on track.
The current climate of goodwill between public and private sectors offers an opportunity that should not be missed; it can be used not only to foster new partnership but to ensure that partnership is truly in the interests of international public health. Engaging private sector stakeholders early and consistently in the development of malaria elimination including the work of data gathering and surveillance will lead to successfully decreasing its burden. After all, knowledge and understanding are the foundations from where opportunities for interventions can flow. Together, we can do it.
RBM Partnership to End Malaria Celebrates 20 Years of Action
Launched in 1998, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is celebrating 20 years of progress and achievements and has released a commemorative video marking their efforts.
In 1998, the original Roll Back Malaria Partnership was launched in New York by UNDP, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank. On 30 October 2018, it marked its 20-year anniversary with an online campaign. A video campaign was produced and posted online on a mini-website specially created for the occasion, where RBM also provided a media toolkit to share ‘Malaria Memories’ – looking at the achievements of the past 20 years and looking ahead at what the 500+ RBM partners want to achieve in the next 20 years. RBM encouraged its partners to get involved with the hashtags #malariamemories and #endmalaria and by sharing photos of key malaria events and initiatives. A ceremony was organized on 19th November in Maputo, Mozambique, day of the launch of the WHO World Malaria Report 2018, to celebrate RBM’s birthday alongside the launch of the “High burden to High Impact”, a new malaria initiative by the WHO in partnership with RBM that calls for country-led response plans.
A few days later, RBM, the Global Fund, GAVI, UNITAID and STOPTB inaugurated the Global Health Campus in Geneva, bringing key global health actors closer together as they now share the same roof.
And, a new mosquito emoji got released on Apple and Adroid devices. The idea came from the John Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this year. The emoji makes it even easier to communicate on the deadliest animal in the world, so let’s use it!
African Leader’s Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
Sahel Malaria Elimination Initiative (SaME) National Malaria Control Programme Managers and Partners Orientation Meeting took place in September in Senegal. The goal of the Sahel Malaria initiative is to accelerate towards the attainment of malaria elimination goals by 2030 in the Sub-region. This regional platform aims to combine efforts on scaling up and sustaining universal coverage of antimalarials and mobilizing financing for elimination. It also aims to fast-track the introduction of innovative technologies to combat malaria and develop a sub-regional scorecard that will track progress towards the goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. Support for the initiative is strong and with the introduction of the sub-regional scorecard keeping track of progress will allow them to focus on the most vulnerable areas.
Asia Pacific Leader’s Malaria Alliance (APLMA)
APLMA’s newly established Vector Control Platform for Asia Pacific (VCAP) represents a major milestone in partnership-building. Announced during the 1st Malaria World Congress, this platform links national regulators, policy-makers, industry, academia, and the global health community to boost development and use of antimalarial tools, such as mosquito nets and insecticides. The platform was jointly launched by APLMA and Unitaid to stimulate innovation and development of new tools to help eliminate malaria. An inaugural VCAP consultation was held with key partners to validate the terms of reference and agree on the formation of a Steering Committee to guide the platform’s development. With Bangkok, Thailand as the setting, the first VCAP meeting joining all stakeholders will take place in April 2019.
Additional highlights from APLMA include the decision to develop a tracking mechanism for malaria control and elimination across the region via their APLMA Leaders’ Dashboard. Clear milestones for each priory area have been outlined so that accurate progress can be reflected and tracked.
Moreover, APLMA welcomed new Board Members that are anticipated to bring global prestige and leadership to the organization.
President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)
The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) congratulated the 72nd United Nations General Assembly for adopting the malaria resolution that, if implemented, would commit to the elimination of malaria by 2023 via the pledge of US$4 billion.
Additionally, PMI recognized and applauded local religious leaders in Zambia for leading and supporting community-level testing and treatment for malaria. Using faith-based organizations is a promising way to promote and encourage local community members to get tested and, if necessary, treatment. US Global Malaria Coordinator, Dr. Ken Staley, encouraged faith-based leaders to tap into their local networks to make a difference in the fight against malaria.
PMI also published findings on the importance of operational research in order to make the greatest impact with limited funds. The challenge of implementing programs with limited funding is universal but can be alleviated with the use of analytics and data research. For example, a recent study involving indoor residual spraying (IRS) indicated that using ecological risk (predictive probability of mosquito prevalence) to prioritize communities for treatment proved more beneficial that implementing the strategy in geographic areas (all structures receiving IRS). These results can then be applied to how PMI allocates resources for IRS and beyond.
Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis & Malaria
The Global Fund and Unitaid announces that they will be investing US$33 Million to introduce insecticide-treated nets to fight malaria. It has been demonstrated that treated nets reduce the burden of malaria, however, efforts to distribute new nets must be made as mosquitoes are becoming increasingly more resistant to insecticides.
Moreover, the Global Fund released the Country Profiles results in early November which highlight the disease burdens of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria for 22 countries. These profiles give details on the financing landscape as well as country-specific programmatic information.
Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund, writes an opinion piece on the dichotomy of funding program specific work versus funding health systems. He states that both strategies are necessary to combat the short-term and long-term issues that the world faces today. Results-driven, disease specific, approaches address immediate needs whereas continuous investments in health systems allow for the sustained health of a population. The Global Fund is an active investor in supporting both approaches.
To that end, the 2018 Results Report was published highlighting the results achieved with Global Fund investments. Of note are the 17.5 million people that received HIV treatment, the 5 million people that were tested and treated for TB, and the 197 million mosquito nets that were distributed to prevent malaria.