As the world adopts a new set of global development goals, the malaria community is also transforming itself to attain its vision of a world without malaria.
In 1998, when malaria claimed an estimated one million lives every year and impacted hundreds of millions of people around the world, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership was founded with the goal of halving the disease’s burden — a goal that we will surpass in 2015. The fight against malaria has since become one of the greatest success stories in global health and development: Over six million malaria-related deaths have been averted since 2000, 97% of which would have claimed the lives of children under five years of age.
Created jointly by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), RBM has fostered strong multi-sectoral collaboration and contributed to major accomplishments in malaria-related advocacy, resource mobilization, consensus building and the implementation of prevention and control interventions.
Since RBM’s inception, global investments in the fight against malaria have surged 2000%: from $130 million to $2.7 billion annually. This increase has fuelled an unprecedented scale-up in the delivery of multiple effective interventions against the disease, including long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), and indoor residual spraying. During that time and through the work and contributions of countries and many stakeholders, malaria-related mortality has decreased by 58% since 2000, and the global Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for malaria has been achieved or surpassed. More than 100 countries are already free from malaria, and at least 55 countries are on track to reduce malaria incidence rates by 75% by the end of 2015.
However, the battle is far from won – the world still sees nearly 200 million cases of malaria every year. As the MDG era comes to a close and the world adopts an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), malaria must remain high on political, social and financing platforms. WHO and RBM have framed an ambitious agenda for the next 15 years through the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 and RBM’s parallel advocacy plan, Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria (AIM) 2016–2030. These documents define the steps required to achieve a further 90% reduction in global malaria burden by 2030, as well as accelerating national and regional elimination efforts. Achieving the new malaria goals and ensuring full-scale implementation of integrated interventions requires a more than two-fold increase in malaria funding by 2020, to $6.5 billion per year, underscoring the need for greater operational coordination and inter-sectoral collaboration. In parallel, a refreshed Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) will provide a set of research and development priorities that identify knowledge gaps and tools needed for the worldwide eradication of malaria.
As the new SDG era beckons and the malaria response advances, the RBM Partnership must also continue to evolve. A new partnership structure was approved by the RBM Board at its 28th meeting in May 2015, designed to strengthen the global malaria community's ability to realise a highly-integrated political, operational, and financial response, and accelerate coordinated action against malaria during a time of shifting development priorities, biological threats and financial austerity.
A Transition Oversight Committee, led by Dr. David Parirenyatwa, Minister of Health, Zimbabwe and Admiral Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), with the support of Transition Manager Kevin Starace, a former Vice Chair of the RBM Partnership, will implement the new architecture for the partnership and continue to advance the priorities of countries and communities at risk of malaria. Key activities of the current RBM Secretariat — headquartered in Geneva, with staff in New York and sub-Regional networks based in Gaborone and Dakar — will transition to a new structure recommended by this Board-appointed committee. The Transition Oversight Committee will institute regular communications to keep all partners informed as the changes progress.
“RBM has stood at the forefront of this new era of development, ready and willing to examine future challenges and opportunities and adapt our way of working to ensure that malaria remains a health and development priority, and that together we are able to continue to save valuable lives and unlock the economic potential of the most vulnerable communities around the world,” said RBM Executive Director Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré. " The Global Technical Strategy for malaria and Action and Investment to defeat Malaria — AIM 2016-2030 — will help to secure the resources and global collaboration required to achieve our shared vision of a malaria-free world.”
"The impact of the RBM Partnership is clear. We have cut malaria deaths in half, which seemed unattainable at the outset of the MDG era -- yet we know these gains are fragile and can be reversed in one rainy season if we allow malaria interventions to lapse," said Dr. Victor Makwenge Kaput, Chairman of the RBM Board, Parliamentarian and former Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo. "As the world adopts new global goals for sustainable development, we are adapting RBM partnership mechanisms to achieve our ambitious mandate to end malaria. We do so with deep appreciation of the current RBM Partnership Secretariat who have enabled us to envision a world free of malaria by their dedicated support."