World Malaria Day 2017: Inspiring advocacy in the fight against malaria

In the lead up to this year’s World Malaria Day, Friends President Chris Collins had the opportunity to speak at the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit on a panel titled, “U.S. Government: Leading the Fight to Defeat Malaria.” The purpose of the summit was to engage, train and inspire champions and partners to continue their advocacy in support of the fight against malaria. In addition to Mr. Collins, the panel featured Irene Koek, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator in USAID’s Global Health Bureau; Dr. Busiku Hamainza, an epidemiologist at the National Malaria Control Center in Zambia; and Dr. Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director of Global Health & HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation as moderator.

The panel discussion highlighted the role that the United States and the Global Fund have played in the fight against malaria. Mr. Collins began the conversation by reaffirming the important role that advocates play in ensuring Congress and the Administration remain committed to fighting malaria by stating, “We need your energy and we need your passion.” He then discussed the relationship between the Global Fund, the U.S. Government and bilateral global health programs, such as the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). Mr. Collins highlighted the critical role that the U.S. played in the creation of the Global Fund, as well as the importance of PMI in ensuring that Global Fund programs are successful.

Ms. Koek reaffirmed the importance of the partnership between the Global Fund and PMI by highlighting the remarkable progress that has been achieved in fighting malaria, and explaining that “one cannot work without the other.”

Dr. Hamainza emphasized that for success to continue, access must be expanded to long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, drugs to treat cases of malaria, indoor residual spraying, and community health workers. When he was asked about the ways in which Zambia has been successful in fighting malaria, Dr. Hamainza pointed to his country’s “Zambitious” efforts, including being the first country to adopt artemisinin-based combination therapies to treat malaria and the expansion of rapid diagnostic tests.

As the panel discussion concluded, Mr. Collins responded to a question on how global health expenditures impact the U.S. by explaining that while the primary goal of global health programs is to save lives, investing to end epidemics has considerable secondary benefits, including economic growth and greater security. He highlighted that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., as well asthe $40 return on investment from every $1 invested in malaria control.

Each year, World Malaria Day provides the opportunity to acknowledge the incredible progress that we have made, but also to reaffirm our commitment to the work that is still left to accomplish. Advocates, such as those that attended the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit, will be critical to ensure that the U.S. remains committed to the fight to #endmalaria.

For more on the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit, follow #NBNSummit on Twitter.