TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

WHO, RBM and ALMA launch malaria intelligence gathering unit

The World Health Organization, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance announced a joint initiative on Saturday to provide important malaria intelligence for ten high-burden African countries.

The Malaria Situation Room, which will also be supported by the U.N. Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and Malaria and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will provide 10 countries with urgent, strategic support. The 10 countries include Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

"The ten countries have been doing courageous work in fighting malaria, but given the scope of the problem and the fast-approaching MDG target-date of 2015, we are pleased to be able to offer them additional support," Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the executive director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, said.

The health-related MDGs include a 75 percent reduction in the number of new malaria cases and near-zero malaria deaths by the end of 2015.

The Malaria Situation Room will work with the countries to find and track the flow of commodity supplies and funding, anticipate bottlenecks and work with the countries to develop fast solutions. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided three years of operational funding for the initiative.

"We are very excited about this new initiative, because as strong, engaged partners, we can tap our global and regional network to resolve financial and technical bottlenecks," Robert Newman, the director of WHO-Global Malaria Program, said. "By working closely with these hardest-hit countries to mobilize resources, we can ensure that no one dies for lack of a five dollar bednet, or a 50 cent diagnostic test and a one dollar antimalarial treatment."

While access to prevention and treatment in the past decade improved malaria outcomes in many countries, including a 26 percent drop in global malaria death rates, malaria continues to be a major killer worldwide. Malaria killed approximately 660,000 people around the world in 2010. Approximately 90 percent of the deaths and 80 percent of the cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

"In order to significantly reduce malaria in Africa, we have to make progress in the highest burden countries," Joy Phumaphi, the executive secretary of ALMA, said. "This is why the ALMA secretariat has seconded staff to the Malaria Situation Room."