Health Ministers from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu Launch EDEN Initiative to Combat Malaria and Vector-Borne Diseases

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – In a historic collaboration, Health Ministers from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu joined forces on June 6th, 2024, to launch the Eliminating Malaria and other Vector Borne Diseases through Enhanced Regional Partnerships (EDEN) Initiative. The announcement took place at the 8th Asia Pacific Leaders' Summit on Malaria Elimination hosted by the Government of Papua New Guinea in partnership with the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA).

The urgency is undeniable. Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands face a resurgence of malaria cases. Vanuatu's progress is threatened by COVID-19, cyclones, and remote locations. Indonesia battles a concentrated burden in its eastern islands. While Timor-Leste achieved zero indigenous cases in 2021, border threats necessitate continued vigilance.

The EDEN Initiative addresses these challenges by establishing a regional support mechanism. This will boost effectiveness and efficiency in tackling programmatic needs, technical capacity building, and financing for malaria elimination and other vector-borne diseases.

“We have to strengthen our health systems and agreed on importance of moving away for siloed disease programs – taking an integrated approach to funding and implementing programs” said Hon Dr Lino Tom, MP, Minister for Health, Papua New Guinea

“Regional collaboration is indeed instrumental in our collective efforts to eliminate malaria in the Asia Pacific region. As neighboring countries of Timor-Leste, we recognize the importance of collaborating effectively with Indonesia and other regional partners to achieve this shared objective." said Hon Dr Élia António de Araújo dos Reis Amaral, Minister of Health, Timor-Leste.

The Ministers have called upon all stakeholders, including technical experts, donor agencies, the private sector, and civil society, to join their fight against malaria and other vector-borne diseases.

In his closing remarks, the Prime Minister James Marape said, “Papua New Guinea remains prone to malaria, and we have been living with it for many years. Our national plan for 2021-2030 talks about us eliminating malaria by 2030. It is a big challenge and aspirations, but there is nothing better than saving our people's lives. We have strong evidence of collaboration between partners these past two days, and we have seen the evidence that while we live in Papua New Guinea, we are not living in isolation. The EDEN Initiative, focused on eliminating malaria and other vector-borne diseases, is a commendable effort.”

In the coming months, as part of the EDEN Initiative, the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance will conduct in-depth country consultations and needs assessments to tailor programmatic guidance, technical capacity building, and resource requirements for each participating nation. The findings will inform the development of a comprehensive program of work with timelines and budget allocations for future activities.

Press contact: Alta Alonzi (aalonzi@aplma.org) / Tamara Amalia (tamalia@aplma.org)

Notes:

About Eliminating Malaria and other Vector Borne Diseases through Enhanced Regional Partnerships (EDEN) Initiative

Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, and Zika are a constant threat in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu. These illnesses cause widespread sickness and death, jeopardising the health of entire regions. The situation is further compounded by rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and unpredictable weather patterns. These factors disrupt access to clean water and food, create ideal breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects, and damage vital infrastructure. This makes it incredibly difficult for these island nations to achieve their health goals.

To combat this complex challenge, the EDEN Initiative proposes a regional approach. This initiative is envisioned as a support system, not a replacement for existing national efforts. It will focus on improving collaboration and efficiency in tackling malaria and other vector-borne diseases across the five island nations.

The EDEN Initiative will focus on three key areas:

- Strengthening Programs: The initiative will connect countries with long-term technical expertise, improve regional disease surveillance through standardised data collection and analysis, and foster cross-border collaboration for faster detection and treatment of cases.

- Building Capacity: The initiative will organise regional training programs to equip healthcare workers with the latest tools and knowledge. It will also conduct research on innovative approaches to diagnostics, treatment, and vector control.

- Securing Resources: A prominent regional leader will be appointed as an initiative champion to raise awareness, advocate for political commitment, and secure resources. The initiative will also explore innovative financing options to support national efforts, particularly in areas with a high disease burden.

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