Asia Pacific Leaders’ Conclave on Malaria Elimination 2023
Hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in partnership with APLMA
Inaugural Session at the Asia Pacific Leaders' Conclave on Malaria Elimination in New Delhi on 24 April 2023
Statement of Outcomes
On 24th April 2023, on the eve of World Malaria Day, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in partnership with the Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA) hosted a high-level meeting on malaria elimination in New Delhi, India. The Asia Pacific Leaders’ Conclave on Malaria Elimination united country representatives from Asia Pacific, global partners and renowned experts to reaffirm commitments and galvanise action to end this ancient disease.
The Leaders’ Conclave saw high-level engagement from senior leaders in India including the Hon’ble Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya and Dr. Vinod K. Paul, Hon'ble Member, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Government of India, who presided over the meeting.
In addition to recommitting to malaria elimination, leaders at the high-level meeting also discussed tracking regional and national progress, reaching at-risk populations through a whole of government approach, and leveraging research, innovation and new technologies to accelerate progress towards malaria elimination.
Asia Pacific leaders recommitted to eliminating malaria by 2030
Senior leaders from the Asia Pacific region including Hon Dr Culwick Togamana, Minister of Health & Medical Services, Solomon Islands; Hon Dr Ratu Atonio Rabici Lalabalavu, Minister of Health & Medical Services, Republic of Fiji; Hon Dr Dante Saksono Harbuwono, Vice Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia; Hon Dr Zaliha Binti Mustafa, Minister of Health, Government of Malaysia; and Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, World Health Organization (WHO), South-East Asia Region, articulated their continued commitment towards the goal of ensuring a malaria-free Asia Pacific by 2030.
Subnational commitment and progress are critically important to national elimination goals, and the high-level participation by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tripura, Prof (Dr) Manik Saha as well as Hon’ble Minister of Health & Family Welfare Department, Government of Mizoram, Dr R. Lalthangliana, will ensure state-level focus and implementation of critical interventions necessary for malaria elimination.
The WHO’s leadership and technical support of the region’s malaria elimination agenda was welcomed with an update from Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO SEARO on regional progress towards the 2030 elimination goal. The Regional Director highlighted three Ps in her remarks: Progress made in substantially bringing down the malaria case incidence and mortality rate since 2015; Pressures on the elimination journey including from decreased malaria financing, service disruptions due to COVID-19 and continued threat of drug resistant malaria; and the Path forward focused on sub-national capacity strengthening, cross-border collaboration, adequate and sustained financing, strengthened surveillance and high-impact innovations to accelerate the elimination journey. This intertwined with the need to invest, innovate and implement with a special focus on reaching the most vulnerable.
Dr Vinod K. Paul, Hon'ble Member, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Government of India, highlighted India’s significant progress in reducing the malaria burden while also acknowledging the need for targeted attention on neglected and vulnerable communities, living in tribal and underserved rural areas, in the fight against malaria. Active collaboration is required to work across ministries, strengthen cross-border approaches, continue research and innovation, as well as to leverage technology for strengthened surveillance and service delivery in malaria elimination.
Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Hon’ble Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India, reaffirming India’s commitment to eliminate malaria, and called for cooperation between stakeholders to address the social, economic, and political challenges of malaria. The Hon’ble Minister also committed to further cross-border efforts and extending resources, knowledge and learnings with other countries towards achieving the regional goal of malaria elimination.
Focus on migrant populations and prevention of reintroduction at the last mile is essential for continued national and regional progress
Country representatives from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia shared national and subnational data on elimination progress. These presentations showed countries approaching elimination must focus on the last mile -- particularly through intensified efforts among Mobile Migrant Populations. Additionally, countries are planning early for the prevention of reintroduction of malaria and must ensure sustained resources even after elimination. Additional attention must also be given to devising innovative approaches to surveillance and service delivery for migrant populations as well as intensifying planning, sustained commitment and financing to maintain resources for prevention of reintroduction.
A sustained malaria response requires a whole of government approach and focus on vulnerable communities
To end malaria, strengthening health information systems -- including disaggregation of data -- is essential for understanding critical differences in risks between morbidity and mortality and for facilitating timely intervention within vulnerable groups. As malaria is not just a health issue, governments are updating elimination strategies to consider all social and economic determinants. Achieving a comprehensive and sustainable approach to malaria elimination requires the participation and coordination of all government agencies and stakeholders from across sectors such as agriculture, finance, education, and employment. Prioritisation of malaria at the highest level of government to facilitate this collaborative approach is critical in the fight against malaria.
Implementation of innovations across diverse geographies will be key
There are many recent game-changing developments in research and innovation that have the potential to accelerate the progress towards elimination. As countries progress closer to the elimination target, the differing malaria burdens within and across countries pose greater and more unique challenges which tailored innovations can play an important role in addressing. Still, many countries in the region continue to face roadblocks in scaling up access to new tools due to limited financing, implementation hurdles, complex regulatory approvals, need for health worker training and supply chain issues. Concerted action is needed to accelerate access pathways and investment from all stakeholders including the government, civil society, private sector and donor institutions.
Malaria elimination is Asia Pacific is achievable
With excellent historical success, India and the Asia Pacific region are in the last mile of malaria elimination. To continue progress, countries and partners must focus on hard-to-reach communities and planning for the next stage, implement an intersectoral and whole of government approach to supporting vulnerable communities, invest in innovation and implementation of tailored solutions, and recommit to the 2030 elimination goal. The Asia Pacific Leaders’ Conclave on Malaria Elimination demonstrated that this region has the political will to end malaria and, with intensified and unified efforts across levels and sectors, malaria can be eliminated once and for all.
As hosts of the G20 this year, the Government of India will continue its leadership role in bringing together regional governments and international stakeholders for improved health outcomes for all.