Global health experts release new guidance on malaria elimination

By Kristen Bole on April 24, 2009

Countries and policy leaders gain new guidance today on how and when to eliminate malaria, paving the way for the potential global eradication of the deadly disease. The announcement is being made on behalf of the Malaria Elimination Group, a global body of researchers, policy experts and country program managers, by the Global Health Group of UCSF Global Health Sciences.

“The international community has provided relatively little guidance to countries on elimination to date. The documents published today are intended to change that,” said Sir Richard Feachem, KBE, DSc(Med), PhD, director of the Global Health Group, and chair of the Malaria Elimination Group.

“Much of the world’s attention has rightly focused on controlling malaria and reducing deaths caused by the disease,” Feachem said. “However, 39 countries around the world have embarked on the next step of elimination in the pursuit of eventual global eradication. They deserve our full support and encouragement.”

Feachem will officially announce the release of two publications, Shrinking the Malaria Map: A Prospectus on Malaria Elimination, and its companion, Shrinking the Malaria Map: A Guide on Malaria Elimination for Policy Makers, during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, jointly sponsored with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to commemorate World Malaria Day 2009.

The Prospectus is intended as a road map for those working on the front lines of malaria control and elimination and reviews the operational, technical and financial decisions that should be considered for an elimination program. The Guide is a policy digest of the Prospectus, intended for leaders and policy makers.

“The Malaria Elimination Group has made a valuable contribution at a crucial moment, by providing countries, policy makers and investors the information they need to make informed decisions about investment in malaria elimination,” said Raymond G. Chambers, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria. “We applaud the success of the countries that are pursuing elimination today, and all those countries in Africa that are working hard to achieve the Secretary General’s goal of universal coverage of preventive and treatment measures by the end of 2010.

“The international community must work together to ensure that all of these countries have the political and financial support to sustain implementation and achieve their goals,” he said.

“The time has come to increase our support to both control and elimination efforts, as well as invest in research for new tools,” said Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the RBM Partnership. “This three-pronged approach will help us achieve the goals of the Global Malaria Action Plan, the overarching, consensus-based strategy for the eventual global eradication of malaria. We applaud the Malaria Elimination Group’s push to place malaria elimination high on the health and development agenda, and its significant contributions to malaria elimination efforts.”

The Malaria Elimination Group, convened by the UCSF Global Health Group, provides intellectual and practical guidance to countries along the natural global margins of the disease that have chosen to pursue elimination. Malaria elimination means stopping the transmission of the disease within a particular country or geographic area. 

The guidance provided in Shrinking the Malaria Map reflects a thorough analysis of currently available data on malaria elimination today. It will be updated over time as new information becomes available. Both publications are available for electronic download from the Malaria Elimination Group’s website, www.malariaeliminationgroup.org.

Malaria is one of the world’s leading infectious diseases, infecting up to 500 million people each year and accounting for nearly 1 million deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The majority of its victims are children under the age of five, and pregnant women.  Roughly 90 percent of those deaths are in Africa, where malaria accounts for one in five childhood deaths.

World Malaria Day is April 25 and was instituted by the World Health Assembly in 2007 as a day of unified commemoration of the global effort to provide effective control of malaria. 

About the Malaria Elimination Group

The Malaria Elimination Group (MEG) is composed of 45 international experts from 17 countries, convened by the UCSF Global Health Group to elaborate the scientific, technical, operational, economic, and programmatic issues that countries need to consider when pursuing or embarking on malaria elimination. For more information, please visit www.malariaeliminationgroup.org.

About the UCSF Global Health Group

The Global Health Group (GHG) of the University of California, San Francisco Global Health Sciences is an “action tank” dedicated to translating new approaches into large-scale action to improve the lives of millions of people.  Through funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Exxon Mobil Corporation, the GHG’s Malaria Elimination Initiative was established in 2007 to support and enable malaria elimination initiatives around the world.  The GHG works with partners, including the Clinton Foundation and the University of Queensland, to support elimination efforts in Melanesia (the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland), and China.  For more information, please visit www.globalhealthsciences.ucsf.edu/ghg/.

About UCSF

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, please visit www.ucsf.edu.