Shrinking the Malaria Map

UCSF Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI)

Malaria Elimination Today

Dispensing ACTs Zambia: A health worker in Zambia dispenses ACT for malaria. Arturo Sanabria 2009 Courtesy of Photoshare

Elimination three-part strategy

Malaria efforts around the world are guided by global policy documents such as WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (GTS), Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria (AIM) and From Aspiration to Action: What Will it Take to End Malaria?.

At a high level, a three-part strategy to “shrink the malaria map” has been endorsed by the global malaria community: 

  • Part 1: Aggressive control in the malaria heartland
    Part 1 focuses on the need for greatly strengthened and expanded control in the malaria heartland to achieve low morbidity and mortality. The majority of deaths and disease from malaria occur in these tropical areas, where the burden on the population and the economy is greatest. Part 1 of the overall strategy rightly receives the most investment and attention.
  • Part 2: Progressive elimination from the endemic margins
    Part 2 is an essential complement to Part 1 and continues the historic process of progressively shrinking the malaria map. It reduces the number of countries that have to invest in fully developed malaria control programs. It also prevents death and illness, decreases global incidence, and brings hope and opportunity to countries in the malaria heartland, ensuring that they will eventually eliminate malaria from within their borders. 
  • Part 3: Continued research and development to bring forward new tools
    Part 3 of the strategy, strongly supported by many government and private funders, is bringing forward new and improved tools to fight malaria. Although we can make much progress with today’s tools, we also need to continually develop better tools and techniques and use them wisely and widely. For example, resistance by the malaria parasite to today’s drugs will eventually develop, and new generations of drugs will be required. The same is true for mosquitoes and the insecticides that we use against them. Vaccines against malaria are also under development, and over the next decades, we should see the mobilization of several new and innovative tools.

It is important to note that all three components of this strategy must happen simultaneously.

The “shrinking the malaria map” three-part strategy has helped halve mortality rates since 2000 and reduce cases around the world by 18%. Today, 35 countries are actively pursuing evidence-based malaria elimination goals nationally or sub-nationally. Between 2000 and 2014, these 35 malaria-eliminating countries have reduced their collective burden by 91%.