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Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, Roll Back Malaria Partnership and Empower School of Health Urge Greater Private Sector Investment to Overcome Malaria in India

In the lead-up to World Malaria Day, recognized globally on 25 April, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) and the Empower School of Health hosted an evening event to celebrate the successes against the disease in recent years and encourage a broad, multisectoral approach to overcome remaining financial and biological challenges, particularly in the Asia-Pacific. Gathering government leaders, including Guest of Honor Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, other dignitaries and foreign diplomats, private sector and civil society executives, academics and development experts, co-hosts urged greater investment in malaria-control efforts to help save lives and foster greater economic development for India and the region more broadly.

Carrying one of the highest malaria burdens in the region, co-hosts of Wednesday’s event highlighted the potential for India to contribute to broader efforts against the disease, including through national corporate engagement initiatives, as a strong member of the G20 and the BRICS emerging market countries, as well as a leading producer and exporter of anti-malarial medicines.

“With 95% of India’s population living in malaria-endemic areas and an estimated 1 million cases reported by the government each year, malaria continues to take a significant economic toll on the country,” said Mr. Herve Verhoosel, RBM Representative at the United Nations in New York and Head of External Relations, while speaking at a press conference just before the event. “We have a tremendous opportunity to leverage the power of a booming economy in India to unlock resources and scale-up malaria-control interventions that will save lives and foster greater development for all. I call on the private sector to join with the government and civil society to help scale-up efforts and overcome biological challenges that threaten progress.”

With 22 malaria-endemic countries in the Asia-Pacific, the region is home to over 2 billion people at risk of infection and accounts for approximately 32 million cases of malaria infection and 47,000 associated deaths each year. While a scale-up of interventions has averted over 80 million cases, and over 100,000 deaths since 2000, the Asia-Pacific region continues to carry the second highest malaria burden outside of Africa. India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea bear the largest burden of the disease, accounting for 89% of all malaria cases in the region.
Parasite resistance to artemisinin, the core component of the most effective, WHO-recommended course  of treatment for malaria – Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) –has been confirmed in five countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region in the Asia-Pacific: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar Thailand and Vietnam. The threat poses a very real risk to progress achieved to date, as the spread of this resistance could leave the estimated 3.3 billion people at risk of malaria around the world with no effective course of treatment against infection.

“Enthusiastic endorsement for APLMA, as seen amongst leaders attending the 2013 East Asia Summit, presents a unique opportunity to help the region work together to scale up malaria interventions and move them beyond borders and state lines,” said Benjamin Rolfe,Executive Secretary ad interim of APLMA. “To do this, we need governments,bednet and insecticide manufacturers, drug makers, border officials, climate change activists and others involved in the fight against malaria working better together.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, malaria deaths in India have been reduced by nearly half in the past decade, largely due to increased control efforts, a shift in drug policy that has mandated use of top-line Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies for malaria treatment and greater community participation and industry engagement.

“As the largest supplier of quality-assured Artemisinin-based Combination therapies approved by the World health Organization, India plays an enormous role in broader efforts against malaria,” said Professor Paul Lalvani, Deanand Director of the Empower School of Health. “With five Indian manufacturers responsible for the production and export of hundreds of millions of top-line anti-malarials in Africa and Asia, India stands to play a critical role in efforts to contain and overcome resistance to these drugs.”

With stronger coordination under RBM partners and technical guidance by the World Health Organization (WHO), and increased international financing for malaria, malaria interventions have been scaled-up at unprecedented levels.

According to the WHO’s 2013 World Malaria Report, malaria death rates have decreased by approximately 42% globally and 49% in Africa alone – where 90% of all malaria-related deaths still occur – contributing to a 20% reduction in global child mortality and helping drive progress against other development targets. Collective efforts have helped avert an estimated 3.3 million deaths between 2001 and 2012 – 69% of which were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden in 2000 – and more than half of the 103 countries that had ongoing malaria transmission in 2000 are meeting the MDG of reversing malaria incidence by 2015.

Despite these advances, almost half of the world’s population remains at risk from malaria, with an estimated 207 million cases of infection around the world each year and 627,000 deaths. Around the world, a child still dies from malaria every minute.

Increased financing will be critical to further advancements, as current international and domestic financing for malaria of US $2.5 billion in 2012 amounts to less than half of the US $5.1 billion RBM estimates is needed annually through 2020 to achieve universal coverage of malaria control interventions.

World Malaria Day has been recognized annually around the world since 2007.

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The Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)
RBM is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. Founded in 1998 by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank and strengthened by the expertise, resources and commitment of more than 500 partner organizations, RBM is a public-private partnership that facilitates the incubation of new ideas, lends support to innovative approaches, promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling, harmonizing and amplifying partner-driven advocacy initiatives. RBM secures policy guidance and financial and technical support for control efforts in countries and monitors progress towards universal goals.

The Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA)
APLMA was born out of the Malaria 2012: Saving lives in the Asia Pacific, a regional conference hosted in Sydney by the Australian government in November 2012, aiming to contain the spread of drug resistant forms of malaria and reduce malaria cases and deaths by 75% by 2015 by expanding the fight against the illness out from the health sector into the arenas of regional trade in counterfeit or low-quality medicines, migration, deforestation and climate change. To accelerate progress on malaria control and elimination and accelerate containment of artemisinin drug resistance, APLMA will unite countries and promote regional political leadership and collaboration; APLMA will drive progress and accountability to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 2015 and contain the spread of drug resistant malaria, undertake high level policy advocacy in the Asia-Pacific and keep malaria high on the region’s agenda.

Empower School of Health
Empower School of Health core area of expertise lies in access to medicines, quality, pricing, procurement and supply chain of health commodities including drugs, diagnostics, medical devices and other health commodities. Their vision is to promote access to quality-assured global health commodities. Malaria is one of the focus diseases for Empower School of Health. We have been working in malaria since the inception of the organization. Empower School of Health has worked in Global Fund funded malaria endemic areas for procurement and supply chain assessment of anti-malarial drugs and commodities.Prof. Paul Lalvani is co-chair to the Procurement and Supply Chain Management Working Group, Roll Back Malaria Partnership. Empower School of Health also has a technical advisor to Access to Quality Medicines and Other Technologies Task Force (AQMTF) of APLMA.

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