World Malaria Day 2014: Invest in the future. Defeat malaria.

Malaria_netIn recent years, malaria has been established as a global priority for health and development.  Effective, low-cost tools, along with a growing consensus on how to combat the disease, have generated an unprecedented momentum.  While global efforts have saved over 3 million lives since the year 2000, delivery bottlenecks, drug resistance, and funding shortfalls continue to threaten recent gains.  Donors have an important role to play in responding to these challenges and bringing life-saving changes to individuals and communities.

In honor of this year’s World Malaria Day, we’re highlighting three philanthropic opportunities with the potential for high impact in the fight against malaria:

1. Get proven treatments to communities: Families in need often lack timely access to quality malaria treatments such as artemisinin combination therapy (ACT).  The good news is that funding to procure these treatments has increased tenfold in the last decade—but the ongoing challenge of actually delivering the medications remains, particularly in the remote regions where many at-risk populations can be found.  Programs that strengthen drug supply chains, provide prepackaged medications with pictorial instructions, and train and supervise community level health providers show great promise in getting medication into the hands of those who need it most, ensuring that it is used correctly, and ultimately reducing the death and disability toll of malaria.
Example program:  Population Services International supports malaria control programs in over 30 countries, using private and public sector channels to distribute medications.

2. Build on a global network of malarial resistance information:  Drug-resistant malarial strains and insecticide-resistant mosquitos continue to threaten control efforts in nearly 100 countries.  However, recording these issues in a systematic way can be challenging. A global antimalarial database can help catch emerging issues, such as new drug resistance, so that scientists and development professionals can act fast to address the changing environment.
Example program: Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network or WWARN is an international group that provides up-to-date evidence of temporal and geographic trends and coordinates efforts to block the emergence and spread of resistance.

3. Support innovation for new tools: Donors can help transform the landscape of malaria control by funding the research and development of new drugs, vaccine strategies, and insecticides.  When tools are easier to implement, it’s easier to increase their usage and delay the emergence of resistance while lowering costs.
Example program: PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Medicines for Malaria Venture are research and development partnerships working on innovative projects for novel vaccines and anti-malaria treatments.

To learn more about how you can directly contribute to global malaria control efforts, see our Malaria Guide.