MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Australian Government has committed $16.3 million to a new fund to combat malaria in the Asia Pacific region, adding to a $19.4 million pledge from the Government of the United Kingdom to the newly established Regional Malaria and Other Communicable Disease Threats Trust Fund.
The fund, administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will help developing member countries reduce the number of malaria cases and deaths in Asia and the Pacific, and control the spread of drug resistant malaria in the Mekong region.
Increased population movements and rampant availability of low quality and counterfeit antimalarial medicines exacerbate the region’s vulnerability to malaria, which remains a major cause of death and illness in Asia and the Pacific, with an estimated 36 million cases and around 49,000 deaths annually.
The fund will support countries to scale-up responses to key challenges in combatting malaria in Asia and the Pacific. These include the need for a more sustained financing, managing the efficacy and affordability of key drugs and commodities, improved data for evidence-based decision making across countries, and expanded leadership beyond the health sector.
The fund is the first under ADB’s new Health Financing Partnership Facility, which seeks to attract cofinancing from regional economies, development partners, the private sector, and foundations.
It builds on the formation of the Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), which was announced at the East Asia Summit in October 2013.
APLMA expands the fight against malaria beyond the health sector into key sectors such as trade, transportation, agriculture, mining, and forestry. It places particular emphasis on regional cooperation to address the quality and affordability of malaria medicines and technologies and to ensure sustained financing for the control and eventual elimination of malaria. ADB hosts the APLMA Secretariat and its two taskforces. The Trust Fund will strengthen and provide further support for these efforts.
APLMA aims to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 75% by 2015 and to support eventual elimination of the disease in Asia and the Pacific.
APLMA membership includes the regional cosigners of the 2013 East Asia Summit outcome statement, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Where malaria remains endemic, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu have also been invited to participate. The Prime Ministers of Australia and Viet Nam act as APLMA co-chairs.