Brussels, April 25: Significant progress has been made in bringing malaria under control, but we can only defeat the disease with a game-changing vaccine.
World Malaria Day, on April 25, is an important moment to recognise the progress that has been made since 2000, and chart a way forward in how we can harness global health innovation to make malaria history by 2030.
Smart investments and strong partnerships have resulted in dramatic progress against malaria in the past 15 years. Mortality has decreased by 60 percent, with 6.2 million lives saved since 2000. Malaria is no longer the leading cause of death of African children. Between 2000 and 2015, 57 countries reduced malaria cases by at least 75 percent.
Renate Baehr, DSW Executive Director: “Huge strides have been made in the fight against malaria, but the numbers speak for themselves – new malaria infections remain unacceptably high. If we are to end malaria by 2030, we need – as the WHO recognises – a game-changer. That game-changer, in the fight to control and eventually overcome the disease, could be a malaria vaccine.”
The absence of a malaria vaccine is among the key issues preventing the global health community from further reducing new malaria infections; every day, there are roughly 590,000 newly infected malaria sufferers. To reduce these numbers, we need not only to expand the coverage that is currently being provided with existing medical interventions, but to look forward to the next generation of innovative treatments and preventive measures for malaria.
Investment in global health innovation for malaria has already delivered major achievements in recent years. Breakthroughs in innovative technologies, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, rapid diagnostic tests, and Artemisinin-based combination therapies, have been hugely successful in fighting back against the spread of malaria.
But, if we are serious about eradicating malaria, international decision-makers need to commit to supporting global health research – investing in the vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tools needed for a new era of global health. Last year the European Medicines Agency issued a first positive scientific opinion on a malaria vaccine, pilot projects for the vaccine are set to launch in several African countries this year.
Renate Baehr: “If each UN member state were to commit just 0.05% of their national GDP to research, this would go a long way to meeting funding targets for global health research, which has stalled in recent years. Increased resources are important, but so is making sure that world-class researchers do not have to face unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles – for example, by making it easier for new and innovative drug development models to access grants for global health innovation.
“We need European and other leaders to step up their political support for global health – turning their international global health commitments from rhetoric into reality, and really leading the fight to eradicate malaria.”
Notes to the editor:
- DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung) promotes universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in low- and middle-income countries. By undertaking SRHR advocacy, developing initiatives, and engaging in capacity development and family planning projects, we improve the health of women and girls living in poverty and empower the youth of today to lead healthy and self-determined lives.
- Final Phase III trial results of the most advanced malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S, showed a 36% and 26% decrease in clinical malaria cases in children and infants respectively over 3-4 years of follow-up. RTS,S is currently being reviewed by the European Medicine Agency (EMA), with a positive decision together with a potential World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation anticipated by the end of 2015. The next most advanced malaria vaccine candidates are in earlier stage clinical trials (Phase IIb). Last year, for the first time, the European Medicines Agency issued a positive scientific opinion on a malaria vaccine. In January 2016, WHO recommended large-scale pilot projects of the vaccine in several African countries, which could pave the way for wider deployment in the years ahead.
Contact for more information:
Communications Officer, DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung)
Tel: +32 (0) 2 504 90 66
Mob: +32 (0) 485 399 443