MMV echoes the WHO and Lancet Commission’s sentiment that malaria R&D must remain high on the eradication agenda
MMV welcomes the release of two high-level reports ahead of the WHO-hosted forum on “Rising to the Challenge of Malaria Eradication” held in Geneva on 9 September 2019. The WHO report Malaria Eradication: benefits, future scenarios and feasibility was authored by members of the Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication (SAGMe). The Lancet Commission Report (LCME): Malaria Eradication within a Generation: ambitious, achievable, and necessary was authored by Prof. Sir Richard Feachem and 26 global experts.
“MMV applauds the publication of these reports that bring malaria eradication back to centre stage,” said Dr David Reddy, CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture. “Despite a slowdown in progress over the last 2 years in the highest malaria-burden countries we must acknowledge the progress made over the last 20 years and the growing number of countries that are poised to achieve elimination. It is appropriate that these two comprehensive analyses support the view that malaria eradication is achievable and identify concrete measures to regain momentum toward a malaria-free world. With 400,000 people dying each year from this preventable and curable disease, these analyses will help to refocus and strengthen our efforts toward eradication.”
According to the WHO, today less than 1% of funding for health R&D investment goes to developing tools to tackle malaria. Both reports suggest that eradication will not be achieved with today’s tools and make a strong case for ramping up innovation to bring forward new diagnostics, drugs and vector control interventions. In addition, the reports highlight the opportunities for leveraging advances in information technology and data analysis to better inform national and sub-national strategies, better use interventions and drive efficiencies. The LCME also highlights the important point that the “prevention of re-establishment is at least as important as elimination”.
How MMV will help realize the vision of a malaria-free world
Since its foundation in 1999, MMV has kept in step with global strategies, at first aligning with the Millennium Development Goals and then with the UN’s Agenda 2030. Over the last several years MMV has been working with many of the experts who contributed to the SAGMe and LCME reports and has taken further steps to align itself with the vision and strategy of the two groups.
“In addition to our R&D activities to address key unmet medical needs in malaria, we are expanding our focus on access and product management,” said Dr Reddy. “Unless the important new tools we have co-developed can be readily available wherever and whenever they are needed, we will have fallen short on fulfilling the promise of our mission. In the access space, we are emulating the R&D model of developing hypotheses, crafting innovative pilots, and then validating or refining our approaches to increase the reach and impact of quality medicines for malaria. As for our research strategy, we are working today to develop the tools that will support the ultimate eradication of malaria.”
The importance of the role of malaria-endemic countries cannot be over-emphasized. The commitment of their political leadership, increased domestic investment into malaria control and elimination, and emerging strength of their next-generation scientists, clinicians and programme specialists reinforce the belief that we will indeed realize the vision of a malaria-free world. MMV is playing its part in this area by supporting the development of the next generation of scientific and programmatic leadership from these countries.
During its 20th Anniversary meeting in Geneva on 10-11 November, MMV will be presenting its updated strategy enhancing malaria control and elimination, including progress to date and lessons learned, as well as its plans to support the global pursuit of eradication.