Guest contributors Dr. Carlos C. (Kent) Campbell and Bindiya Patel wrote this post to commemorate World Malaria Day. Kent is leader of our Malaria Control Program. Bindiya is a strategy officer at PATH.
Ending malaria is a priority at PATH, and we are proud to be a key contributor to an emerging global campaign that is intensifying the control of malaria illnesses and deaths around the world.
PATH’s portfolio of malaria programs has grown exponentially since our first malaria projects were launched in the 1990s. The span of our program experience, expertise, and available technologies has expanded to meet the rising opportunity to stop transmission of malaria infections altogether.
PATH now employs 115 staff across a diverse portfolio of malaria projects, working with 29 countries and a combined annual budget of $79 million. We take a multipronged approach in fighting the disease through optimizing the use of current strategies and technologies, developing the next generation of tools, and working with countries to demonstrate how to rapidly bring down childhood and maternal deaths from malaria—with the ultimate goal of eliminating the disease community by community.
We can’t stop at malaria control
Not only is PATH’s goal to intensify the development of strategies and tools to reduce the burden of malaria and build toward the eventual elimination of the disease, our experiences over the years have shown us that this must be the long-term goal of all malaria programs, partners, and endemic countries.
Defeating malaria—and forever ending the well-documented risk of resurgence—is the only long-term goal. Some may argue that sustained control of the spread of malaria is more feasible or cheaper, but simply put, malaria control is not and cannot be an endpoint. Rather, it is part of the natural evolution of malaria programs as they move from an initial phase of scaling up efforts to achieving significant reductions in malaria illnesses and deaths and eventually clearing malaria infections in all people.
In addition, there is ample evidence demonstrating that when prevention measures are not maintained, resurgence of infection, illness, and death caused by the disease is inevitable. Attempting to maintain coverage gains short of elimination will both fail to progressively build on success and put us at risk of losing ground.
The challenge, and our work to meet it
Malaria elimination is an ambitious goal and the road ahead is certainly challenging. Many countries still have much work to do in order to scale up the delivery of mosquito nets and other lifesaving tools. PATH is supporting these countries as they scale up by optimizing the use of existing tools, providing the evidence needed to inform program policy and regulatory requirements for elimination, and building the human capacity and information network that is critical if countries are to achieve malaria-free status.
We are also working on innovative solutions like developing a novel semisynthetic artemisinin compound, the main ingredient in the most effective treatment for malaria, to stabilize the drug supply. We are developing point-of-care diagnostics to support elimination efforts and helping to build new tools, including vaccines, to help countries achieve malaria elimination with the goal of 18 to 20 million people living in malaria-free areas by 2020.
In addition, we have long-standing in-country malaria partnerships with more than a dozen countries. Together we are building evidence and informing the dialogue about malaria elimination.
Join us and end malaria
Our goal is to work with partners and national governments to strategically demonstrate that malaria-endemic countries can eliminate malaria infections and transmission. Realizing this feat would be ground-breaking for the global community—and would buoy the support and political commitment needed to help make malaria history.
Will you join us in committing to end malaria once and for all?