The message comes in time for World Malaria Day, 25 April 2013, themed “Invest in the Future” and “Defeat Malaria”.
UQ School of Population Health’s Professor Maxine Whittaker said global malaria mortality rates had reduced by more than 25 percent over the past decade, but eliminating the disease in the Asia Pacific required greater focus.
Professor Whittaker is one of the co-ordinators of The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APEM), based at The University of Queensland.
“Globally there is a focus on the malaria endemic in Africa, but the problems specific to Asia Pacific are particularly challenging,” she said.
“In this region, bites by Plasmodium Vivax, a protozoal paraside, account for the vast majority of malaria cases.
“Specific understanding of vector control and breeding and biting behaviours through surveillance and more operational experience will be required to build the evidence base and capacity needed in the final effort to eliminate malaria and save lives in the Asia Pacific.”
Some members of the network are making rapid progress.
For example, the World Health Organisation may declare Sri Lanka malaria-free next year.
Global health pioneer and APMEN co-chair Sir Richard Feachem has congratulated members on working to reducing malaria rates in the Asia Pacific region by 64 per cent over the past decade.
“There is great energy, there is great enthusiasm and there is great commitment to eliminate malaria in the 14 APMEN members and then to take the benefits of this elimination to all other countries in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
The network includes Bhutan, Cambodia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
These countries are making steady progress against malaria elimination targets.
An Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network video on the importance of advocacy for malaria elimination that can be viewed at www.apmen.org.
Professor Maxine Whittaker is available for interviews this week.
About the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network
The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) was established in 2009 to support malaria-eliminating countries and catalyse the work on malaria elimination issues in the Asia Pacific, with a specific focus on Plasmodium vivax. APMEN is composed of 14 Asia Pacific countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Republic of Korea, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam) that are pursuing malaria elimination, as well as leaders and experts from key multilateral and academic agencies.