Targeting Zero: sustaining success in malaria control

11 Jul 2011

APPMG 2010 Annual Report

The 2010 APPMG Report presented clear evidence of some early successes in malaria control. Increased funding had driven up the coverage of key malaria control tools, especially mosquito nets, and made more effective malaria treatment available. This had been associated with a decrease in the number of malaria cases, admissions to hospital and deaths. The initial findings were documented by research groups working in a small number of African settings.

The encouraging early findings have now been complemented by data from routine health information systems. Continued investment has further increased the coverage of life-saving malaria control tools. Eleven African countries have now reported a decrease of at least 50% in malaria cases between 2000 and 2009. Last year, the annual number of malaria deaths fell by 20% in comparison with the beginning of the millennium. International financial commitments are translating into increased coverage of malaria control tools and reducing illness, improving survival, enhancing businesses and stimulating economies. The success remains fragile, and further investment is needed to consolidate and expand the early gains. Nevertheless, the growing body of evidence shows that investing in malaria control pays off. However, gains made in the past could be lost if continuous efforts are not maintained. A business as usual approach won’t get us to win the fight against the parasite. During the last year, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases heard how investment in malaria control by private companies has generated financial returns. Also how countries, funders and industry are beginning to co-ordinate actions around Roll Back Malaria’s Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP).

The APPMG has also hosted Stephen O’Brien, Under Secretary of State for International Development, and examined the historic commitment of this Government to tackling malaria. It has followed each step of DFID’s work to consult, develop and publish its new Framework for Results for Malaria and the accompanying Bilateral and Multilateral Aid Reviews that set out the overall vision for DFID’s future work. Most of those who have addressed the APPMG have also fed into these documents.

The British Government’s key commitments to accelerating progress on malaria have been unprecedented: to help halve the number of people dying of malaria in ten of the most highly burdened countries; and to spend up to £500 million per annum on tackling malaria by 2014/15. At country level, DFID has now published its plans for measuring progress towards achieving these goals – both in terms of outcomes and funds spent. The APPMG has welcomed these documents and in particular DFID’s commitment to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo which have such high malaria burdens at present. The next step is to put the plans into action – something on which DfID is now working.

While the APPMG has been heartened by these successes, and the historic commitments of the British Government in particular, the Group has also been informed of a number of challenges, and new threats emerging on the horizon.