Cross border malaria is a major impediment to achieving regional malaria elimination. No country can achieve this goal in isolation. At the 4th South East Asia Regional Coordination Mechanism Forum (SRCMF), APLMA-APMEN addressed the constituency to highlight the importance of implementing cross-border cooperation for malaria control & elimination.
Preventable infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria account for one third of all under-five deaths. Globally, nearly half of all deaths among children under five are attributable to malnutrition (Caulfield 2004). In Asia Pacific, 351 million people are still undernourished, and the COVID-19 pandemic will only exacerbate this figure. UNICEF estimates an additional 6-7 million children under 5 globally will suffer from acute malnutrition as a result (UNICEF 2020).
World Malaria Day 2021
April 25, 2021 marks my first World Malaria Day as CEO of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) and provides an opportunity for reflection. Fourteen years ago, while living in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, I held a mostly listless four-year-old boy in our home. The boy was my eldest son. The cause of his illness: unknown to us. At first we did not suspect malaria- there was little, if any, where we lived in Highlands. But thinking it through further we recalled he had been to Port Moresby in the recent past so perhaps that was the culprit?
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems throughout the world have been tested in unprecedented ways. With 124 million reported COVID-19 cases in 219 countries and territories globally, the impact of the novel coronavirus has left virtually no corner of the world untouched. While the full impact of this global pandemic on the fight against malaria is yet unknown, there are positive strides to report as revealed by the APLMA Leaders’ Dashboard 2020. Our region has shown resilience in sustaining efforts against malaria and continued to push policy reforms to support the response against this old scourge.
Malaria is a disease of the rural poor and the vulnerable. To achieve elimination by 2030 in Asia Pacific, countries must protect those most at high risk of malaria. Pregnant women and young children for example face a higher risk because of reduced immunity, yet their needs vis-à-vis malaria prevention and treatment are not being adequately met. The vulnerability to existing infectious diseases is further heightened by other health crisis of a global nature such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health consequences of climate change.