While other forms of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever are in the media limelight, malaria remains the predominant killer disease, the head of the Global Health and Healthcare System Initiative said at the World Economic Forum in Vietnam last week.
“Though vast amounts of money are spent on fighting malaria, unfortunately, a silver bullet in the form of a vaccine or drugs to fight all known malaria strains has yet to be developed,” said Vanessa Candeias. “Emphasis for funds to find mosquito-borne diseases has now unfortunately shifted to diseases such as dengue, for one, and we need to get the focus back on malaria, which is still a killer disease in Asia Pacific, including Cambodia.”
“Cambodia has achieved a lot in controlling malaria through mosquito net distribution campaigns and providing case management services in endemic villages,” she added. “The fight against malaria is at a critical point. Nothing short of an all-hands-on-deck approach will suffice as we work to eliminate malaria in the Asean region.”
Ms Candeias explained that Blended Finance for Impact is a partnership of the Asian Development Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and APLMA to enable and increase long-term integrated financing for health, including malaria.
In line with the objectives of Blended Finance for Impact, the ADB has announced a new Regional Health Fund. The fund will address the increasing demand from governments for new forms of health financing, particularly financial modalities that blend grants and loans to address the most pressing health challenges in Asia Pacific.
“We are looking to raise up to $150 million in grant funding, which will be multiplied many times using other ADB resources,” said Stephen Groff, vice president for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific at the Asian Development Bank.
“The Regional Health Fund is a hallmark to the creative approaches we are using to address the evolving challenges presented by malaria and other communicable diseases. Together with our partners, our aim is to create a new era of collaboration between health development partners.”
M2030, launched by APLMA in April, is a platform for cause-based corporate engagement that takes a novel approach to eliminating malaria by 2030. It unites international health organisations, consumers and prominent business leaders to be malaria-elimination champions through partner platforms and media.
Decreasing case counts and a firm political commitment to end the disease mean that, for the first time in history, the elimination of malaria is within reach in Asia Pacific.
However, challenges threaten this progress, including a looming funding gap that puts critical malaria-elimination activities at risk.
On the heels of robust economic growth in the region, external grant funding to support malaria elimination is expected to decline. This presents an urgent need to create initiatives to sustain the political commitment to end malaria.
It also requires unconventional financing solutions to ensure that vital elimination activities are funded, critical gaps are filled and access to health services are expanded across borders.