Malaria research Samples
A Multisectoral Approach to Fight Malaria

Rolling back Malaria together

Malaria remains one of the world’s largest public health challenges. To counteract this insidious disease, public health expert and consultant Dr. Erik Blas compiles and updates the Multisectoral Action Framework, an initiative between the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Among his findings: Collaboration among sustainable development stakeholders is pivotal to eliminate malaria.

Erik Blas, public health expert and consultant
Credit: Erik Blas, private

 

Public health expert and consultant Dr. Erik Blas compiles and updates the Multisectoral Action Framework, an initiative between the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the United Nations Development Programme.

Public health expert and consultant Dr. Erik Blas compiles and updates the Multisectoral Action Framework, an initiative between the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the United Nations Development Programme. During his career in international public health, Dr. Erik Blas has observed an increasing need for health professionals to look at challenges from a wider perspective in order to eradicate malaria. Currently, he is refreshing the 2013 Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria to include recent developments and lessons learned by the members of the Roll Back Malaria Multisectoral Working Group. A key observation: Public Health professionals need to consider the full range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the different aspects embedded in a multisectoral approach to fight malaria sustainably.

 

Health Depends on Economics

For example, there should be a closer look at the relationship between inequality (SDG10), social exclusion (SDG16) and the distribution of malaria. The malaria distribution in Panama, for example, proves such a connection. Panama generally has a low malaria burden. But in some areas, the burden of malaria is as high as in high burden countries.

Over 85 percent of malaria is in just ten percent of Panama’s population. It is the poor, less educated and often disenfranchised indigenous groups that are more affected. In contrast, Sri Lanka, certified malaria-free since 2017, was supported by its strong socio-economic growth.

Outdoor Breeding-Site Mosquito-Larvae
Credit: Bayer AG

 

 

 

 

 

If not prepared properly, water serves as a popular breeding space for mosquitoes. 

Mosquito breeding site
Credit: Bridget Corke, MantaRay, Bayer AG

 

Governments Have to Strive for a Holistic Approach

He also sees urgent responsibilities in terms of governance: Improvements need to be better aligned with the SDGs, which cover a broad range of objectives, such as eliminating poverty, reducing inequalities, supporting economic growth and protecting the environment. Malaria elimination can be seen as an indicator for success across SDGs and sectors. Though countries are supposed to disaggregate data according to the SDGs, they often don’t. But that is crucial: By disaggregating data, you can find out who is more affected by malaria – where and what is causing it, with the reason for its persistence, in which areas and what action is required.

Based on this data, governments at national and sub-national levels can come together in the fight against malaria. And by doing this, governmental efforts have to be translated into action by different sectors applying a multisectoral approach: exchanging thoughts, data and working hand-in-hand to create co-benefits. Collaboration is fundamentally needed to achieve greater impact in the fight against malaria and other diseases of poverty. Blas hopes this holistic approach reaches donors as well, that they allow or even demand that their money reaches across sectors affecting the SDGs as well as malaria.

 

The Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria

The Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria, commissioned by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the United Nations Development Programme, calls for action at several levels and in multiple sectors, globally and across inter- and intra-national boundaries, and by different organizations. It emphasizes complementarity, effectiveness and sustainability, and capitalizes on potential synergies to accelerate both socioeconomic development and malaria control.

 

Traditional Approaches Are Still Valuable

A concerted multisectoral approach is an additional leg in the fight against malaria, addressing the fundamentals of malaria as a societal population health challenge. It embraces and enhances tried-and-true interventions such as treating the sick, personal prevention, vector control – and eliminating breeding spaces for mosquitoes by constructing waste water pipes and covering ponds, for example. It would also be helpful to rethink, among other areas, the existing farming practices and infrastructure, such as cultivating a mix of plant-eating fish together with fish that eat mosquito larvae in fish ponds. Blas truly hopes that political, sectoral and health professionals work closer together and understand that this multisectoral approach means synergy. We can only win this fight together. There is nothing to lose – there are only benefits.

 

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