26 November 2013

Accelerating Progress towards the MDGs | A Spotlight on Malaria

With just two years remaining to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), focus is now shifting towards the post-2015 agenda and their successor - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are likely to run from 2016-2030.
Accelerating Progress towards the MDGs | A Spotlight on Malaria
Since the MDGs were first put in place, they have been met with advocates on the one hand who have welcomed their global coordinated role to work together to end poverty. On the other hand, sceptics have frequently raised concerns that these UN processes have been overly complicated and perhaps unrealistic.  Despite flaws and significant obstacles to hamper their achievement including the global financial crisis, the MDGs have stimulated an unprecedented focus on the world’s poverty-stricken community. The health MDGs (goals 4, 5 and 6) have helped to raise awareness of global health to political leaders across the globe, triggered efforts amongst civil society and facilitated significant improvements in health outcomes in endemic countries. The MDGS have also stimulated a significant degree of research and incentivised innovation in new treatments, technologies, infrastructure and financing methods to support the eradication of the poverty-related diseases - malaria, Tuberculosis and AIDs.  

A spotlight on malaria

Increased global and national investments in malaria control have contributed to decreasing the burden of malaria in affected countries and facilitated its near elimination in others. However, the continued occurrence of 219 million cases and 660,000 deaths every year emphasize the increased need for prevention and control efforts. Over the past decade, the RBM Partnership, a global framework for coordinated action against malaria has leveraged its partnerships with endemic countries, bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions to advance coordinated malaria-control efforts in affected countries.

With focus now placed on the post-MDG agenda, RBM Partners acknowledge the importance of positioning malaria within the broader sustainable development agenda. In this regard, the ultimate eradication of malaria is dependent on the achievement of three fundamental criteria: poverty elimination, economic growth and advancing the development of life-saving control activities.

Recognising the inextricable link malaria has to poverty as a health sector concern but one which impacts socio-economic development, RBM and UNDP have developed a Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria.  This framework is designed as a stimulant and guidance for action for governments and health sector practitioners. It sets out a roadmap to adopt an integrated approach to combat malaria in order to meet the MDGs and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals which will follow after 2015. It also encourages policy-makers and global health practitioners to increase partnerships between sectors to accelerate both socio-economic development and malaria control.

Announcing the new framework at the 68th United Nations General Assembly Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP stated “Malaria is a disease associated with lack of socio-economic development, poverty, marginalization and exploitation "Each of these dimensions has roots beyond the health sector – so a multi-sectoral response is essential if we are to free the world from the burden of malaria."

At this early stage of its existence, the Framework encourages a ‘Try it, test it’ approach. Early adopters of this approach at local or national level will help improve the framework further once the initial results of its implementation are released. Furthermore, over the coming year the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria will need to be adopted and integrated into the following parallel processes in order to gain momentum and lays the foundations for its success:
  • The Sustainable Development Goals
  • Developing the next Global Malaria Action Plan | A global framework for action to combat malaria
  • The UN Platform on Social Determinants of Health |An agreement between UN agencies to work together on social factors linked to health in order to reduce health inequities
  • Third Inter-ministerial Conference on the Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa| A meeting which will bring African governments together to facilitate adoption of the framework across the continent.
The framework’s success is dependent on coordinated efforts by a broad range of stakeholders and sustained resourcing to fund malaria programmes. It is also dependent on other social determinants such as housing as well emergency resources to address resurgence cases.  While sceptics question this renewed focus and flurry of activity, the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria challenges critics by provoking renewed impetus amongst political leaders, businesses and civil society to collaborate further to address these complex global challenges.
As part of its pro-bono work in the field of global health, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Brussels participates in the Private Sector Delegation of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM PSD), a global partnership to implement coordinated action against malaria. The RBM PSD community plays a crucial part in supporting the continued efforts of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and other stakeholders in achieving the Millennium Development Goals of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015. If you would like to develop opportunities in the field of global health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team in Brussels.

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