Leaders of countries endemic for malaria have pledged to boost innovation and access to new and existing antimalarials.

It comes as the Medicines for Malaria Venture marks its 20th anniversary in Geneva—and looks ahead to a new generation of interventions for a disease considered the world’s deadliest.

The anniversary is considering interventions as:

  • enhanced collection and sharing of epidemiological and operational data
  • innovative strategies such as the encouragement of a community-driven approach to mobilize access to antimalarial treatment in hard-to-reach rural areas
  • development of new diagnostic tools to maximize access of antimalarials to eligible patients
  • extending the age range for administering seasonal malaria chemoprevention to children above 5 years of age – pushing boundaries to increase impact.

Countries across Africa and the Asia Pacific are endemic for malaria, and their leaders have pledged to accelerate malaria elimination through domestic funding.

They will also create an “enabling policy environment” for the introduction of new tools to boost innovation and access to medicines, according to a statement from the Malaria Medicines Venture.

“African leaders are racing to meet the target we set for malaria elimination by 2030. Increasing domestic resources for malaria so that we can scale-up and sustain universal coverage and ensure medicines can be accessed by those who need them most is our top priority,” said, HM, King Mswati III, chair of the African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

ALMA is a coalition of African heads of state and government working to achieve a malaria-free Africa by 2030.

“We also commit to continue to address drug and insecticide resistance through investment in constant innovation and ensuring new solutions are made available,” he said.

Similarly, the Asia Pacific Malaria Alliance (APLMA), in line with its goal to achieve a malaria-free Asia-Pacific by 2030, is supporting efforts to expand health financing and introduce new malaria medicines.

“In Asia-Pacific, we are making great strides against malaria – China has achieved nearly 3 years with zero indigenous malaria cases, Malaysia has reported no indigenous human malaria cases in 2018, and India reported a 24% fall in malaria cases between 2016 and 2017,” Dr Benjamin Rolfe, chief executive officer of APLMA, said.

“Yet multi-drug resistance in the Mekong region to Plasmodium falciparum, a deadly parasite found across the continent, is posing a threat to global health security. Now, it is more important than ever to ensure that citizens have access to innovative, effective medicines and scale-up efforts to defeat malaria.”

MMV is a product development partnership in the field of antimalaria drug research and development.

Since it was founded in 1999, the MMV has developed the largest portfolio of antimalaria drugs and launched 11 new antimalaria medicines.

Some 27 antimalaria drugs are in development.

Partnership with researchers, pharmaceutical companies and malaria programmes in countries endemic for malaria have helped save an estimated 2.2 million lives since the launch of its first co-developed drug in 2009.

“Today is a chance for us to acknowledge the incredible work of researchers across the world who have been and who continue to be at the forefront of malaria research and innovation,” said Dr David Reddy, chief executive officer of MMV.

“Not only is this an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned over the past 20 years it’s an opportunity to look ahead and ensure we continue to focus on finding new and innovative solutions that will ultimately eradicate this preventable and treatable disease.”