WHO / MALARIA

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22-Aug-2019 00:03:59
The World Health Organization (WHO) said accelerated research and development (R&D) in new tools for malaria prevention and treatment is key if the world is to eradicate malaria in the foreseeable future: today less than 1 percent of funding for health R&D investment goes to developing tools to tackle malaria. WHO

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STORY: WHO / MALARIA
TRT: 03:59
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLICATION, BROADCAST, OR TRANSMISSION BEFORE 00:01 GMT, 23 AUGUST 2019
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 22 AUGUST 2019, WHO HQ, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE

SHOTLIST:

STORYLINE:

FILE - APRIL 2019, MALAWI

1. Various shots, boy infected with malaria in hospital bed

22 AUGUST 2019, WHO HQ, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“Malaria eradication is a hard, a highly ambitious but a highly desirable public health goal. It will not be achieved unless we can secure three key elements. First one is that we need to have real political leadership and commitment that translates into the financing that is required to ensure universal health coverage for all populations at risk. Without UHC, without adequate health care, people-centred, properly financed systems, we will not achieve eradication.”

FILE - APRIL 2019, MALAWI

3. Various shots, health worker preparing vaccine

22 AUGUST 2019, WHO HQ, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

4. SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“The second thing we need to have in place is a more strategic, better use of data, surveillance systems that allow us to respond in a timely and efficient way to where the problem is. And the third thing, we need is new tools. With the tools we have today, the tools the meaning vector control mechanisms or tools the vector, the mosquito that transmits malaria – with the type of drugs that we have today, with the type of vaccines that we have today, we can go very far. We can achieve major health gains, but we will always fall short of eradicating this disease.”

FILE - APRIL 2019, MALAWI

5. Various shots, vaccine being administered at health centre

22 AUGUST 2019, WHO HQ, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

6. SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“We cannot set a date at this point therefore we cannot establish a price tag to that effort, we cannot develop a formal plan, but it is squarely and central to our WHO vision of we want a malaria-free world.
And what we need to do is to walk that path, and at this point walking that path means achieving the goals and the targets that the World Health Assembly has adopted of reducing malaria by at least 90 percent by the year 2030. That’s what we need to do while we put together the 3 other key elements and develop the new tools. And that would potentially place us in a point where eradication could be envisioned.”

6. Various shots, scientists studying mosquitos



22 AUGUST 2019, WHO HQ, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

7. SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“Specifically, in sub-Saharan Africa we have witnessed a stalling in our progress in the fight against malaria over the past couple of years or three years; in some cases, we’re witnessing resurgence of malaria. We’re therefore not on track to achieve our agreed upon goals. And this has led the World Health Organization together with Roll Back Malaria partnership and other major stakeholders -- putting countries, the endemic countries at the centre in accelerating a response – what we call the high Impact high burden approach. In many ways, a way of actually starting to establish that political leadership, that financial leadership, the health systems in place and the use of data that would hopefully allow us to accelerate and reach our morbidity and mortality reduction goals.”

FILE - AUGUST 2012, HONDURAS

8. Various shots, mosquito nets being used to prevent malaria in a rural setting

STORYLINE:

The World Health Organization (WHO) said accelerated research and development (R&D) in new tools for malaria prevention and treatment is key if the world is to eradicate malaria in the foreseeable future: today less than 1 percent of funding for health R&D investment goes to developing tools to tackle malaria.

WHO also flagged the urgent need for progress to advance universal health coverage and improve access to services, and better surveillance to guide a more targeted malaria response. The findings have emerged in a report from WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication (SAGme).

SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“Malaria eradication is a hard, a highly ambitious but a highly desirable public health goal. It will not be achieved unless we can secure three key elements. First one is that we need to have real political leadership and commitment that translates into the financing that is required to ensure universal health coverage for all populations at risk. Without UHC, without adequate health care, people-centred, properly financed systems, we will not achieve eradication.”

The group has published the executive summary of its report ahead of a WHO-hosted forum on “Rising to the Challenge of Malaria Eradication” to be held in Geneva on 9 September 2019.

Eradicating malaria would both save lives and boost economies. The health benefits would be greatest among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Children under five account for 61percent of all malaria deaths. More than 90 percent of the world’s 400,000 annual malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“The second thing we need to have in place is a more strategic, better use of data, surveillance systems that allow us to respond in a timely and efficient way to where the problem is. And the third thing, we need is new tools. With the tools we have today, the tools the meaning vector control mechanisms or tools the vector, the mosquito that transmits malaria – with the type of drugs that we have today, with the type of vaccines that we have today, we can go very far. We can achieve major health gains, but we will always fall short of eradicating this disease.”

The group’s analyses showed that scaling up current malaria interventions would prevent an additional 2 billion malaria cases and 4 million deaths by 2030 – provided those interventions reach 90percent of the population in the 29 countries that account for 95percent of the global burden.

The cost of this scale-up is estimated to be US$ 34 billion. The economic gain would be around US$ 283 billion in total gross domestic product (GDP) - a benefit to cost ratio in excess of 8:1.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“We cannot set a date at this point therefore we cannot establish a price tag to that effort, we cannot develop a formal plan, but it is squarely and central to our WHO vision of we want a malaria-free world.
And what we need to do is to walk that path, and at this point walking that path means achieving the goals and the targets that the World Health Assembly has adopted of reducing malaria by at least 90 percent by the year 2030. That’s what we need to do while we put together the 3 other key elements and develop the new tools. And that would potentially place us in a point where eradication could be envisioned.”

Global malaria infection and death rates have remained virtually unchanged since 2015. WHO’s World Malaria Report in 2018 revealed that the world is currently off track to achieve the 2030 goals set out in the WHO Global Technical Strategy for malaria 2016-2030 – i.e. a 90 percent reduction in the malaria case incidence and mortality rate.

In many countries, access to health services remains a major challenge. Only one in five pregnant women living in areas of moderate to high malaria transmission in Africa is able to obtain the drugs she needs to protect herself from malaria. Half the people at risk of malaria in Africa sleep under an insecticide-treated net and just 3 percent are protected by indoor spraying with insecticides.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme:
“Specifically, in sub-Saharan Africa we have witnessed a stalling in our progress in the fight against malaria over the past couple of years or three years; in some cases, we’re witnessing resurgence of malaria. We’re therefore not on track to achieve our agreed upon goals. And this has led the World Health Organization together with Roll Back Malaria partnership and other major stakeholders -- putting countries, the endemic countries at the centre in accelerating a response – what we call the high Impact high burden approach. In many ways, a way of actually starting to establish that political leadership, that financial leadership, the health systems in place and the use of data that would hopefully allow us to accelerate and reach our morbidity and mortality reduction goals.”

This highlights the need to advance universal health coverage and strengthen health services and delivery systems, so everyone can access malaria prevention, diagnostics and treatment, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

The group noted the need to rethink approaches. WHO and partners are already establishing some new strategic approaches to tackling malaria. Last November, for example, WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria launched the “High burden to high impact” approach. This aims to jumpstart progress against malaria by targeting attention to the 11 countries with 70percent of the world’s malaria burden – 10 African countries and India.

This complements efforts to secure certification among the countries seeking to eliminate malaria by 2020, the WHO “E-2020” initiative. So far, WHO has certified 38 countries and territories malaria-free.

Most of the tools being used to tackle malaria today were developed in the last century or even earlier: insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, rapid diagnostic tests and drugs based on artemisinin.

Promising new diagnostics, medications, insecticides and vector control approaches are being developed, alongside passive immunization therapies such as monoclonal antibodies. The world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS, S/AS01, has been deployed in Ghana and Malawi, with plans for rollout in Kenya.

SAGme highlights the urgent need to scale up R&D to strengthen this pipeline, pointing to the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA), which provides a useful starting point to guide needed R&D investment.
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