Partnership to support endemic countries in achieving their Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria elimination goals.
The new Partnership for Vivax Elimination (PAVE) launching today, will support countries in the elimination of P. vivax – a complex and persistent type of malaria that poses a risk to more than one-third of the world’s population.
As part of PAVE, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), PATH, Menzies School of Health Research, and Burnet Institute will work with in-country partners to conduct feasibility studies looking at the best way to use different P. vivax relapse treatments and diagnostics at different levels of the healthcare system in endemic countries including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru and Thailand.
PAVE will also continue to support countries, including Cambodia, Colombia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam, with market analytics and readiness planning for new tools and approaches as they seek to optimize P. vivax case management according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidance and accelerate progress towards their malaria elimination goals.
PAVE is led by MMV and PATH and combines a new investment of USD 25 million from Unitaid with work under existing grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and MMV core funding. Consolidating these projects under PAVE will ensure coordination of efforts and clear communications with partners around the world. Recognizing that even more work is needed, PAVE will provide a vehicle for advocacy to bring further attention and resources to the challenge of eliminating P. vivax malaria.
Accounting for between 5.9 and 7.1 million estimated clinical cases every year, P. vivax is the most common type of malaria outside of sub-Saharan Africa. It presents a major challenge to achieving global malaria targets because of the difficulties in eliminating hypnozoites, a form of the parasite that remains in a person’s liver even after successful blood-stage treatment, leading to malaria relapses and contributing significantly to transmission.
Tackling P. vivax, by treating both the blood- and liver-stages of infection – known as radical cure – is essential to achieve the WHO 2030 targets of reducing global malaria case incidence by at least 90% and eliminating malaria transmission in 35 countries; as well as target 3.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: end the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030.
PAVE will continue to work closely with WHO, National Malaria Control Programmes, and country-based partners to support the introduction and use of effective diagnostics and treatments for P. vivax malaria, including shorter-course primaquine and single-dose tafenoquine liver-stage treatments and better point-of-care glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) diagnostics needed to identify patients that are at risk of having adverse reactions to the class of drugs currently used for liver-stage treatments. Patients with the genetic disorder known as G6PD deficiency need to be screened because they are at risk of developing haemolytic anaemia when taking these drugs.
GSK and MMV have developed a paediatric version of tafenoquine, which is currently under review by regulators. PAVE aims to add to this and complete the full set of relapse prevention treatments suitable for children by supporting, with funding provided by Unitaid, the development of a quality-assured, child-friendly formulation of primaquine.
“Malaria elimination is one of the main objectives of the Ministry of Health of Peru. For this reason, MINSA appreciates the support of the PAVE initiative to find new tools for an optimized radical cure for the treatment of P. vivax malaria. This will contribute to the National Malaria Elimination Program’s “Plan Malaria Cero”. Said Veronica Soto Calle, Executive Director of the Directorate for the Prevention and Control of Metaxenic Diseases and Zoonoses, Ministry of Health of Peru (MINSA). “In this sense, we salute the launch of PAVE, an expansion of the VivAccess initiative, and its commitment to supporting endemic countries in their efforts to eliminate malaria.”
“With COVID-19-related interruptions threatening progress against malaria, investing in game-changing innovations remains one of our best chances to advance the frontier towards the elimination of malaria in all countries. By accelerating the adoption of a shorter radical cure and better diagnostics, we can reduce the burden of P. vivax malaria and draw the line against this disease,” said Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid.
“We are thrilled to further expand this important work,” said Elodie Jambert, Director, Access and Product Management at MMV. “Families and communities affected by relapsing malaria have been suffering for too long. The new paediatric treatment options, and the real-world evidence that we will generate as part of PAVE, will represent a big step forward in eliminating this disease.”
“PATH is excited to continue our close engagement with MMV started under the VivAccess grant in working to generate evidence that will support scale-up of life-saving drugs and diagnostics for P. vivax malaria” said, PATH’s Ethiopia Country Director, Tirsit Grishaw. “By combining efforts with the National Malaria Elimination Program as well as the National Malaria Elimination Strategy, PAVE will help shift the paradigm for P. vivax case management.”