Why Civil Society is the key to defeating Malaria

Malaria nets in the Mekong

                                                                                               

Scientists and malaria experts will gather for the World Malaria Congress (July 1-5) in Melbourne to tackle the many issues surrounding the global eradication of the disease and while their expertise is crucial to success so is the role of civil society organisations.

Louis da Gama, Malaria CSO Platform, Greater Mekong Sub-region will be facilitating several sessions at the Congress including:

  • What does effective disease integration look like form community perspectives?
  • The role of community engagement in effective Surveillance to eliminate malaria
  • How to build an effective multi-stakeholder genuine commitment to malaria elimination agenda within the context of the SDGs with the need to meet goals for clean water sanitation nutrition education and ending poverty.

The Regional Malaria CSO platform was established in 2014 with the initiative of Louis Da Gama and Promboon Panitchpakdi, CSO representatives at the RAI RSC as a CSO constituency understanding the gap of coordination and communication at the national and regional level. It also aimed to address an issue of Malaria vulnerable and at risk population who are always not the priority for the countries due to their legal status or nature of work. Since its establishment platform able to create a network of more than 50 NGO and community-based organizations and network in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Platform secretariat is based in Thailand and is currently hosted by American Refugee Committee.

“We must demand a people-centered approach to eliminate malaria. Elimination is impossible without engaging communities meaningfully just like AIDS but many, even those working in the sector, don’t understand what this mean in a malaria context,” explains Mr Da Gama.

The Global Fund’s Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative (RAI) was launched in 2013 in response to the emergence of drug-resistant malaria in the Greater Mekong region (Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Viet Nam.)  RAI has supported countries to purchase and distribute commodities such as insecticide-treated nets, rapid diagnostic tests that don’t require a laboratory or medical expertise, and quality-assured drugs, which together have yielded a sharp drop in malaria deaths.

Now expanded with a second phase, the RAI2-Elimination (RAI2E) programme, is a $243 million regional grant to accelerate elimination of P. falciparum malaria in the Greater Mekong Sub-region over a three-year period (2018-2020).  The RAI2E supports increased malaria service coverage for remote populations in border areas and other at-risk populations, as well as case management through health volunteers and strengthening of national surveillance systems.

Rachel Sismar, Program manager of American Refugee Committee which is host of Malaria CSO platform mentioned “The RAI2E program is achieving success due to its integration of civil society into programs to fight malaria. Mr Da Gama added, we hope to share Knowledge from the Mekong with our colleagues from across the globe at the World Malaria Congress.