End Malaria for Good. That’s the theme of this year’s World Malaria Day – a fitting, aspirational and accomplishable goal as we kick off Agenda 2030 in this transitional year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Across the global malaria community, we should feel gratified with our tremendous success, having saved over 6.2 million lives that would have been lost to malaria since the millennium. Indeed, our joint actions to control malaria have been called one of the greatest public health wins of the past 15 years. The private sector’s contributions have been significant – investing around $500 million in research and development for malaria treatment and prevention tools between 2007 and 2011, as well as financial contributions to global partnerships such as The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Looking forward, we cannot be complacent and allow our investments to go to waste. As a global business coalition with deep roots in the malaria space, GBCHealth remains fully committed to continuing our role in achieving the goal set out in SDG Target 3.3, to end the epidemic of malaria by 2030. To be successful, we believe that we need to focus on four urgent areas so that we can say on April 25, 2030 that we really did end malaria for good.
1. Help Build a Strong and Vibrant Global Malaria Partnership:
The transition of the previous architecture of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is underway. A new Board was established in March, to work alongside the group of eminent voices of the End Malaria Council. These two bodies will lead the broader malaria community as we push towards an aggressive advocacy agenda to eliminate malaria for good. We are delighted by the diversity in the new Board, with leaders who represent fresh minds and extensive expertise in their fields, including the business community. We are pleased that current and former private sector representatives in this space are coming together to problem-solve for malaria elimination.
Over the past decade we have experienced the business community increasingly as visionaries in the fight against malaria, contributing their unique expertise, extensive infrastructure networks and urgency of action. One example was GBCHealth’s Bed Net Dialogue that brought together commodity manufacturers and major donors around a common goal – to improve global bed net procurement systems and offer a more transparent and efficient process ahead of a massive scale-up of insecticide-treated nets. These dialogues and signed commitments by manufactures contributed to the unprecedented increase in net distribution – reaching a peak of 294 million nets distributed at the end of 2010. The private sector’s focus on innovation to meet changing consumer demands, high levels of accountability to investors and operational efficiency and flexibility are some of the critical skills and contributions that are paramount as we embark on our journey towards malaria elimination.
Collectively, we will continue to facilitate the creation of new structures within the Partnership such as the Partnership Management Team and Partner Committees. We will work with the new partnership structure to: elevate issues within the global malaria community and beyond, engage with country and regional stakeholders on key local and cross-border issues, coordinate advocacy events to stimulate dialogue, knowledge, and action, and, where possible, help to influence the necessary financial investments in local community, national and cross-border malaria programs and innovations.
We encourage the private sector, particularly those with footprints in malaria-affected countries, to join us in driving forward this new agenda.
2. Contribute to Financing for Malaria Elimination:
To achieve the ambitious 2030 targets set out by the WHO’s Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for malaria—including reduction of malaria by 90 percent globally—investments will need to triple to just over USD 100 billion with an additional USD 10 billion to fund malaria research and innovation. By 2020, we will need to mobilize USD 6.4 billion per year for malaria. Failure to meet these financial targets will have catastrophic consequences on the lives we are hoping to save around the world.
2016 marks a critical year in financing the fight against malaria. At this time the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the largest funding agency for malaria programs, is undergoing its Fifth Replenishment. Donors are being asked to reaffirm, increase or make new commitments to meet the ambitious USD 13 billion target to support the Global Fund’s AIDS, TB and malaria programs from 2017-2020. Much of this malaria funding will come from official development assistance, such as the US and UK, who are already pushing forward with significant approvals for financial support. However, we also must seek new sources of funding from national governments, the local business sector, foundations and individuals, facilitated through innovative financing instruments as well as more traditional grants.
The private sector, like other donors, also has a role to play through financial commitments to support the Global Fund. Companies like Chevron and BHP Billiton, as well as initiatives such as Product (RED) and the Gift from Africa, are good templates for the private sector to model to support increased financing. Continued innovation with financial institutions and investors around models such as social impact bonds, pooled funding platforms and concessional loans, also represent avenues to unlock new and untapped funds.
GBCHealth, with a number of private sector partners, has developed one such co-investment mechanism called the Health Credit Exchange, a neutral platform that connects business to high performing and innovative public health programs targeting those most in need.
3. Address the Threats of Insecticide and Drug Resistance:
Dr. Tu Youyou received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria. The good news is that we saw dramatic reductions in malaria cases around the world over the last decade, as a result of both Dr. Tu’s discovery and new insecticides used to control mosquitos.
Unfortunately, in more recent years, we’ve also seen a growth in resistance by the mosquito that carries malaria to these insecticides and of the malaria parasite to Artemisinin; this threatens to undermine the gains to date. Sustaining achievements will require ongoing commitments to research and developing new tools including drugs, diagnostics, health and vector control products (including insecticides).
Malaria elimination is contingent on ensuring that there’s an abundance of new tools in the pipeline. Up to two-thirds of malaria-endemic countries are facing artemisinin resistance, and, pyrethroid insecticide resistance. Political will is necessary to stimulate conversations related to the rationale use of medicines, as well as access to and development of consistent spraying policies to reduce the potential for further resistance. Accelerating necessary policy change and availability of new financial investments, globally and nationally, is critical to accelerating development and access to these lifesaving tools. Cross sector collaboration will be critical to bring them to market quickly, while building the local health capacity and structures to absorb and manage the resources and tools.
Increasing resistance will have considerable impact on the business community; for companies with employees in malaria-affected countries, as well as those who engineer life-saving commodities. This imperative is the catalyst for GBCHealth’s current discussion with partners on how best to address some of the bottlenecks in-country pertaining to products, surveillance and capacity. We see tremendous opportunities for us to tackle this issue in partnership with our network of companies, and encourage you to join us. For example, GBCHealth, in partnership with the Asia- Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), is hosting a private sector focused forum on May 10, 2016 to discuss the challenges of malaria elimination in the region and opportunities for private sector companies to play a role in meeting elimination goals stated in the APLMA Elimination Roadmap.
4. Support the Enhancement of Disease Surveillance Capacity:
Recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have reinforced the interconnectivity of health and the economic security of countries – both in the North and South. Containment requires better detection, tracking and treatment within these outbreaks.
Through work being led by companies such as Novartis, Sanofi and Sumitomo Chemical, business commitment and expertise to support local technology transfer and disease surveillance is helping to build the capacity to contain the spread of disease within communities and across borders.
New platforms such as the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), represent tangible efforts by nations, international organizations, civil society and business to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats, along with a willingness to work collectively to tackle the gaps in health systems that contribute to the outbreak of disease.
GBCHealth has led in-country trainings and forums in Nigeria, Angola, DRC, Ghana, and Southern Africa for local health professionals and others to support improvements of data collection, vector analysis, and tools for malaria control. Angola, for instance, saw the establishment of the country’s first insectary on the basis of our Entomology Training. Much of this would not be possible without the expertise and investment of the private sector partners with whom we work; and the dedicated leadership of local governments.
Ending malaria for good will require intensified efforts from across the global community. GBCHealth continues to support and work with companies to eliminate malaria in their communities of operation, while calling on national governments to increase investments to tackle the disease at home. Moreover, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that the necessary policy environment is in place for the rapid roll out of new tools and technologies, while advocating for greater investments in the global malaria elimination fight. Join us as we seek to “End Malaria for Good”.
GBCHealth works with the business community to mobilize the breadth of business resources to ensure a healthier world. Since our establishment in 2001, we have worked with hundreds of companies — individually and in partnership — to tackle the challenges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal health, and many other issues facing the workplace and communities where business is conducted. We have been at the leading edge of issues, generating high-quality content, and tools to help businesses expand, strengthen and deepen their health engagement. GBCHealth serves as Focal Point to the Private Sector Delegation (PSD) of the Board of the Global Fund, Focal Point to the Private Sector Members Council (PSMC) of the Roll Back Malaria Board (RBM) and as the Secretariat for the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA), coordinating and managing the interaction companies have with the Global Fund and RBM, and working with partners to build deeper partnerships in priority regions that target critical interventions including Insecticide Resistance, Health Financing and Vector Management.