We live in a world where resources to control and eliminate the major communicable diseases are being spread widely and possibly too thinly. One of the major successes of the Millennium Development Goals was the focus on a few target diseases – malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis – which disproportionately affect the poorest people in the world. This focus has ensured that the money that global aid donors and national governments could allocate to global health was targeted in sufficient quantities to ensure meaningful results. We are now seeing a real fall in the burden of malaria world-wide and recently significant falls in new HIV infections have also been reported. The world is now talking about the possibility of looking at eliminating both these diseases. The vision of eliminating malaria is now generally accepted as a realistic target.
But recently there have been growing calls for similar approaches to be adopted for the non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are a growing problem as the developing world becomes richer and its populations fall foul of the same health risks as the developed world. There is a big risk that pressure from those groups who, quite understandably, want to advocate for more resources for the NCDs will mean that limited resources will be diverted away from malaria and other infectious diseases just as we are seeing real gains. The risk of not being able to maintain the gains is very real.
The malaria community cannot continue to rely just on bilateral and multilateral aid along with endemic country domestic funding to invest in malaria control and elimination. We need to find ways of bringing in new money. The team designing the new Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP II) is looking at how to make the business case for malaria. This should show not only to governments but also to philanthropists and private sector organisations in endemic countries that putting money into malaria will not only have a direct benefit on malaria. It will also have indirect benefits of helping to strengthen health systems across the board and contributing to improving maternal and child health. having fewer people sick with malaria will have further benefits of more productivity, better achievement at school, and so on. But the case will have to be made clearly and understandably. It will also need not only to be made at a global level, but also through strong advocacy by affected groups at country and grassroots levels. The HIV-affected community have shown the way and the malaria community needs to learn from them and develop an equally strong case.
MACEPA and Malaria No More have been publishing a series of “infographics” that illustrate the importance of investing in malaria control and elimination. This one gives some compelling statistics:- MACEPA Invest Infographic P4
Further information on other resources on the investment case for malaria can be found on the MACEPA website at: MACEPA