New partnership launched to fund malaria ‘end-game’ in Asia Pacific

Published: 12, September 2018
Photo credits: Pearl Gan in association with EOCRU, Jakarta ; OUCRU, Vietnam and The Wellcome Trust, UK.

Elimination of malaria is within reach in Asia Pacific, but critical funding gaps loom 

At the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, taking place in Ha Noi, Viet Nam this week, the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) announced support for two new initiatives to accelerate the elimination of malaria and improve health outcomes in Asia-Pacific: Blended Finance for Impact and M2030.

Blended Finance for Impact is a partnership between the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and APLMA to enable and increase long-term integrated financing for health, including malaria. M2030 brings together some of the most influential businesses in Asia to raise funds, engage consumers as agents of change, and sustain political commitment to malaria elimination.

In line with the objectives of Blended Finance for Impact, the ADB today announced establishment of a new Regional Health Fund (RHF). The fund will address the increasing demand from governments for new forms of health financing, particularly financial modalities that blend grants and loans to address the most pressing health challenges in Asia Pacific countries.

“We are looking to raise up to US$150M in grant funding, which will be multiplied many times using other ADB resources,” said Stephen Groff, Vice-President of ADB. “RHF is a hallmark to the creative approaches we are using to address the evolving challenges presented by malaria and other communicable diseases. Together with our partners, our aim is to create a new era of collaboration between health development partners. This platform will help the transition from traditional grant funding for health, while strengthening private–public partnerships and country-led health financing including financial flows from national to district level.”

A session titled ‘Stamping out malaria’ outlined why some rapid shifts in financing approaches and public–private partnership are so vital.

“We are seeing some incredibly interesting models emerging as development banks and grant-makers move towards sophisticated models more commonly seen in the private sector, including leveraging loans and grants to expand financing and achieve results,” said Dr Ben Rolfe, CEO of APLMA. “With time, this could expand to become a monumental shift in health financing.”

M2030, launched by APLMA in April, is a platform for cause-based corporate engagement that takes a novel approach to eliminating malaria by 2030. It unites international health organizations, consumers and prominent business leaders to act as malaria elimination champions through partner platforms and media. M2030 marks the first time that influential Asian-led businesses will unite under the same brand to collaborate and champion the fight against malaria.  

"Alongside our Yoma Group partners Wave Money and Pun Hlaing Siloam Hospitals we are spearheading the M2030 initiative in Myanmar. With the support of government and private sector, we aim to create a better Myanmar for the 31 million people who according to the WHO are still at risk of contracting the disease in our country," said Mr. Serge Pun, Chairman Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd.

Current M2030 partners include Tahir Foundation, DT Families Foundation, Dentsu Aegis Network, Outdoor Channel Asia, Shopee, Yoma Strategic Holdings, WaveMoney, Pun Hlaing Siloam Hospitals, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The World Economic Forum on ASEAN, taking place in Ha Noi from 11–13 September 2018, has been designed to help shape the path forward through some of ASEAN’s biggest current transitions. The meeting brought together the region’s political, business, academic and civil society leaders, and some of its most innovative start-ups. It included a focus on managing infectious disease risks through innovative, cross-industry, and cross sectoral public–private cooperation.

“The fight against malaria is at a critical point. Nothing short of an all-hands-on-deck approach will suffice as we work to eliminate malaria in the ASEAN region,” said Vanessa Candeias, Head of Global Health and Healthcare System Initiative at the World Economic Forum. “Through our platform, the Forum is pleased to support innovative public–private cooperation required to realize this vision.”

The world is seeing unprecedented progress in the global effort to eliminate malaria. Decreasing case counts and a firm political commitment to end the disease mean that for the first time in history, the elimination of malaria across Asia and the Pacific is within reach. However, challenges threaten this progress, including a looming funding gap that puts critical malaria elimination gains and activities at risk.

On the heels of robust economic growth in the region, external grant funding to support malaria elimination may no longer be in place in the near future. This presents an urgent need to create initiatives to sustain the political commitment to end malaria. It also requires unconventional financing solutions to ensure that vital elimination activities are funded, critical gaps are filled and access to health services are expanded across borders.

This post is based on a World Economic Forum press release. To watch the press conference in Ha Noi, click here.

You can also read an op-ed article entitled "Seek innovative financing in fight to eliminate malaria" by Dr Christoph Benn, special adviser to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and APLMA Board member.

Press conference that followed the ‘Stamping out malaria’ session. (Photo credit: WEF)

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