A statement issued by the network in Accra, signed by the Executive Director, Prof. Osman Sankoh, to mark World Malaria Day, which was observed on April 25, said despite declines in malaria cases and deaths in recent years, many lives were still lost to the disease each year.
INDEPTH has a network of 52 health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) sites run by 45 research centres in 20 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. As a network, it tracks health and demographic data of millions of people in Africa, Asia and Oceania, and have over the years contributed hugely to the fight against malaria.
The statement said: “It is important we recognise the need to invest in all aspects of malaria prevention, control, treatment and in research in order to win the war against the disease and its devastating effects. Already, the Malaria Consortium notes that drug resistance is a global problem that threatens the progress made in recent years.”
Elimination of Malaria
The statement said in the past couple of years, there had been a tenfold increase in funding to support elimination of malaria. However, donor sources have dwindled and there are fears that a resurgence of the disease could threaten hard-won progress.
“The challenge is that current tools and treatments are insufficient to achieve elimination. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining these interventions amounts to several billion dollars a year, with the malaria parasite continuing to develop resistance to current insecticides and drugs,” it added.
Robust scientific evidence
“But it is not all gloom and doom. We have the opportunity to accelerate progress towards elimination in all countries by improving the delivery of existing interventions, as well as developing new tools and strategies that target not just malaria-transmitting mosquitoes but also the parasite itself. This involves creating robust scientific evidence that will guide these changes,” the statement quoted Professor Collins Ouma, a Research Scientist and Programme Leader, Health Challenges and Systems, African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) in Kenya, a member of the INDEPTH Network.
It added that: “Since emerging resistance to insecticides and drugs is the most important biologic threat to the goal of eradication, it is also critical to invest in the development of new tools and strategies to prevent or delay resistance,” it added.
The statement said: “As we join the world community in marking the World Malaria Day, we call for sustained and increased funding of malaria-related efforts by donor governments and endemic countries to support this noble mission of Accelerate to Zero.”