The Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance was formed at the East Asian Summit, just concluded, in Brunei.
With the backing of the Asian Development Bank the A-P-L-M-A says it will expand the fight against malaria beyong the health sector into the areanas of regional trade, transportation and migration.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Patricia Moser, Acting Executive Director, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance Secretariat & Health Specialist, Regional & Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank
MOSER: Now, that is a big task that you just mentioned, but in actuality it's to the end of 2015, that the targets are set to the end of 2015, so we consider that a good 27 months in order to help the countries in the Pacific continue the great progress they've made, but to really nail those achievements.
HILL: OK. How do we do that, because we're doing all the right things, we've got researchers researching, we're getting treated mosquito nets distributed to people, we've got mosquito coils, we're making incremental gains, but this knocking it on the head 75% reduction in a couple of years. How do we actually get to that target?
MOSER: OK So I say the target is 70% reduction from the 2000 base line to the 2015, and so there's actually been tremendous progress made already, particularly, for example, the Solomon Islands and Vanuata, they've made tremendous progress on that. Some of the other countries, a little less so, but all of them moving in the right direction. As you noted, they're great things going on with bed nets, they've been terrific partnerships with Global Fund. Australia itself has been a tremendous partner to the Pacific on malaria issues. But the review recently said, well there's a real need for actually more attention, more leadership. Let's get a whole of society approach to malaria reduction. The places where malaria exists, it's in hard to reach or difficult to address areas, and so let's see if we can't with more concerted effort help move this progress forward.
HILL: OK. I'll repeat the question. How, how do you that?
MOSER: Oh, lots of. one is regional agreement, regional working together on issues, for example, like pharmaceuticals. I mean we all know that moving towards reduction in malaria is really dependent on having good quality pharmaceuticals. They're issues about pharmaceutical distribution, about quality of pharmaceuticals, these kinds of issues that are happening in the region, so working together as a region to address those issues will be really helpful.
HILL: The regions working together pretty well at the moment. What's going to change, what's going to be different with this approach?
MOSER: Well, that's a very good question. We think it's actually going to be a lot of the current approach, but more of it, so a little more attention to malaria.
One of the big issues that you with a disease like malaria is as you make progress, as programs are successful, that sometimes it's easy for countries to start looking at other priorities or to move the attention away from malaria. We think it's really important that attention be maintained on malaria, to really meet all the way to those objectives, and we're not talking about just 2015. We think even beyond 2015 to sustain these gains is very important.
I mean we've had stories in the 1970s, early 80s about the resurgence of malaria, so it's really important that every country keep their eye on the ball and keep moving towards control and eventually elimination.
HILL: Now, there's some reference here in this material that you've given us that you want to move just beyond looking at it as a health thing, but also look at other areas, like trade, transportation and migration. How does look at those issues help fight malaria?
MOSER: That's an excellent question. I'm going to talk just a little bit about the Greater Mekong Sub-region, that's the one I'm a little more familiar with. I know a lot of your listenership is about the Pacific. But, for example, if you look at where you're having still issues of malaria, a lot of its around border regions, about migrant population, and there's a lot of work going on in terms of formal and informal workers, in plantations, in forestry products, in these kinds of areas and these are areas where health services, particularly through the public health system, might not be as robust as they are in other areas, more settled areas. And these are the areas where you have malaria, so you really need a larger approach, even beyond health.
HILL: This Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. How is it going to work? Is it going to be an overall charge of malaria effort or do we run the risk here of simply adding another acronym to the alphabet soup of organisations that are fighting malaria in different ways around the world?
MOSER: Now, that's an excellent question. Actually, the African leaders Malaria Alliance was established six years ago, and there's been excellent experience that keeping this level of sustained attention to this issue, to an issue of communicable diseases actually helps the programs maintain their energy and their focus. And so we really believe that APLMA and Asia and the Pacific can also bring that to malaria.