World Malaria Day 2012 – How Donors Can Sustain the Gains
Today we celebrate the programs and partnerships which have made impressive gains in decreasing the scourge of malaria. There is much to be proud of:
Nearly 300 million bednets (long lasting insecticide treated nets or LLITNs) have been distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, enough to protect over 76% of those at risk.1
Death rates from malaria have decreased more than 25% since 2000.2
However, with almost 700,000 children still dying each year and the parasite evolving to try to escape our current control efforts, there is still much to be done.
Donor Strategies for Impact
For donors who care about impact, two strategies that can immediately accelerate current health outcomes are: mother to mother behavior change and community level treatment of malaria.
Mother to Mother Behavior Change: Hang Up and Keep Up Campaigns
Even though bednets have reached many at-risk communities, particularly in Africa, they will not have their intended effect unless families actually hang them up and sleep under them on a regular basis.
Care Groups (house to house networks of mothers who educate other mothers) are particularly effective in motivating families around important health behaviors such as sleeping under bednets and seeking prompt care when children have fevers.
Community Level Treatment: Get Malaria Medications to Children in Their Homes
Children still die of malaria despite effective medications that cost about one dollar per treatment because they do not have access to medical care in the rural communities where they live.
Using the proven approach called Community Case Management, lives can be saved. Trained and supervised community health workers bring anti-malaria medication (Artemisinin Combination Therapy or ACT) to children where they live. These health workers can be assisted in delivering quality care through continuous training and supervision, rapid diagnostic tests, and algorithms with real time help through mobile devices.
Sustaining the Gains
The recent emergence of drug resistance to the main anti-malaria medication Artemisinin on the Thai-Cambodian and Thai-Burmese borders reminds us that we need to stay one step ahead of this evolving blood parasite. Donors can help by supporting:
Efforts to identify, track, and contain the drug resistance before it spreads to other areas.
Innovation for new medications and tools through partnerships across public and private sectors.
For example, the Medicine for Malaria Venture continues to build the pipeline of new effective medications. The Malaria Vaccine Initiative works to develop what could one day be a game changing malaria vaccine.
Join us in Lifting the Burden of Malaria
All of these evidence-based strategies along with tips for donors and case studies of cost and impact can be found in our guide: Lifting the Burden of Malaria: An Investment Guide for Impact-Driven Philanthropy. It is available for free download on our website at www.impact.upenn.edu. You can keep up with updates from the organizations we mention in our investment guide by following our @impactmalaria twitter list.
Visit the Roll Back Malaria site for more information on World Malaria Day.
1 Progress Against Malaria (WHO, World Malaria Report, 2011) http://www.who.int/malaria/world_malaria_report_2011/9789241564403_eng.pdf