BERN, 06-Apr-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — Great progress has been made in the fight against malaria – since 2000, malaria incidence among populations at risk (the rate of new cases) fell by 37% globally – yet there is so much more to do. According to the latest WHO estimates there were 214 million cases of malaria in 2015 and 438,000 deaths. In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under five are particularly susceptible to infection; more than two thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group.
One of the many hurdles we face in the fight against malaria is how to move an area or region from ‘pre-elimination’ to final elimination.
For example, Namibia’s malaria elimination efforts have been highly successful, though the Zambezi region in the north remains a high risk area, due to local conditions and because its neighbors (Zambia, Angola and Botswana) still have high levels of disease transmission. In fact, this region accounts for approximately one third of Namibia’s malaria cases.
So how do you approach malaria elimination in such a region?
At the Novartis Foundation, we are working with partners to assess the impact of Targeted Parasite Elimination (TPE), a promising new strategy to empty the “reservoir” of malaria parasites in a population at high risk for malaria in a low transmission setting.
The aim of the program is to interrupt the transmission of the disease by treating not only the person diagnosed with malaria – but also close contacts that may not have disease symptoms but could carry the vector and thereby contribute to ongoing transmission.
Partners include the University of California, San Francisco Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative, the Multidisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Namibia, the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme at the Ministry of Health and Social Services of Namibia, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
To date the baseline epidemiology at village level has been completed along with building capacity for malaria surveillance and response. The next phase of the intervention will determine the effectiveness, operational feasibility, safety and cost-effectiveness of the TPE strategy.
To help interrupt disease transmission, we work with our partners to accelerate the elimination of leprosy and malaria by focusing on pioneering interventions that can be integrated into national programs.
With few examples of diseases that have been truly eliminated, the last mile to eventual success can often seem like a distant dream. Nonetheless, to transform technically feasible efforts in successful initiatives, we not only need to bring science, service and politics together, but these efforts need to be carried forward by a strong political and societal commitment.
Show your support in the fight against malaria on Twitter @NovartisFDN#WorldMalariaDay
Additionally, as a member of the Swiss Malaria Group, the Novartis Foundation is extending the invitation to all interested parties to participate in commemorating the day at the Federal Square in Bern; for more information and to register: http://www.swissmalariagroup.ch/en/
The Novartis Foundation is a philanthropic organization pioneering innovative healthcare models that have a transformational impact on the health of the poorest populations.
We work hand-in-hand with our local and global partners to catalyze scalable and sustainable healthcare models that improve access and health outcomes, and accelerate efforts to eliminate leprosy and malaria by focusing on interventions that aim to interrupt transmission.
Everything we do is grounded in evidence and innovation, and our work is a continuous cycle of evaluation, adaptation and application. In 2015, the operational budget for the foundation was CHF 12 million and our programs reached 4.5 million people.
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