Australia draws together regional leaders and experts to address malaria threat
26 October, 2012
2011 Malaria Survey team check houses for mosquito nets Photo: Jeremy Miller
Malaria2012: Saving Lives in the Asia–Pacific will begin in Sydney on Wednesday 31 October, bringing together regional leaders and global malaria experts and advocates to address the major public health threat of malaria.
Australia is calling for a regional approach to address the threat of drug-resistant malaria and to find better ways to coordinate and strengthen the response to malaria and similarly devastating diseases.
Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest killers, causing acute illness and enormous human suffering among some of the world’s poorest communities in some of the least developed parts of the globe.
In 2010, there were 30 million malaria cases in the Asia-Pacific, resulting in around 42,000 deaths. Malaria leaves men and women unable to work and care for their families and denies children their right to good health and education.
The conference, which is being attended by representatives from regional governments, international donors, the business sector, researchers and NGOs, will conclude on Friday 2 November with a ministerial action meeting hosted by Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr and United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers.
A number of researchers, experts and advocates from Australia and abroad will speak at the conference as participants work towards a consensus on how to address the challenges posed by the disease.
The use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor house spraying, accurate diagnosis and treatment can effectively prevent and treat malaria.
The most effective treatment for malaria is artemisinin-based combination therapies. Resistance to artemisinin was reported on the Cambodia-Thailand border in 2009 and has since been reported in Myanmar and Vietnam.
The emergence of artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong region presents an urgent public health threat and will affect progress towards control and elimination targets.
Malaria is an important public health issue in the Asia-Pacific which requires a strengthened response. Malaria and malaria drug resistance crosses borders so coordinated regional action is needed to:
- accelerate progress to reduce malaria deaths by 75 per cent across the region and invigorate action in countries that have committed to this target;
- ensure all patients can access quality drugs and that all people at risk are protected with interventions such as bed nets;
- work across borders together to track progress and find common solutions; and
- allocate more money from both malaria-affected countries and donors to reduce malaria deaths and the threat of drug resistance in the Asia-Pacific.
The conference and ministerial action meeting aim to invigorate efforts to control and eliminate malaria, leading to a commitment by all stakeholders to address drug-resistant malaria ahead of the 7th East Asia Summit being held in Cambodia from 18–20 November 2012.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said in 2010 that optimism on controlling and eliminating malaria must be leavened with caution.
“Malaria is a tenacious foe. To sustain current gains we must be vigilant. Parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines is a considerable threat,” he said.
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Last Reviewed: 29 October, 2012