The first goal, set in 2000, seemed ambitious: stop and reverse the rising rates of malaria within 15 years. When the United Nations announced the Millennium Development Goals, some people were skeptical that this one could be met.
At the time, close to 1 million people were dying of malaria each year, most of them children. But by 2015, deaths had fallen a remarkable 60 percent. We’d exceeded all expectations and demonstrated what can be accomplished when the world comes together to deliver on strong political and financial commitments.
Now we’re at the beginning of a new era in which we’re working to not just control malaria, but end it. The World Health Organization, the African and Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliances, and heads of state from around the world are setting new goals to eliminate malaria within a generation.
To help achieve this goal, researchers across the world, including here at PATH, are developing and testing new tools and approaches to learn what works best where, and how information systems can direct action and track progress. This research and exchange of information is critical to continued success and also represents a real scientific breakthrough in how we fight infectious diseases.
Already, we’ve built health systems that are capable of bringing lifesaving services to people’s doorsteps in remote areas, pioneered the use of diagnostics to test for malaria in homes and rural health posts, and developed disease tracking systems that can be used to respond to both malaria and other global pandemics. We’re closer than ever to having a first licensed malaria vaccine, while working on the next generation of vaccine candidates for even better protection.
New research will build on these efforts, developing exciting new approaches to interrupt malaria transmission from humans to mosquitos and back to humans, while strengthening our ability to find and treat malaria infections in communities.
If we are successful in wiping out malaria, we will improve the quality of life for millions of people across the globe, building a healthier, more prosperous, and secure world. Ultimately, our progress will be measured in human lives.
The past 15 years have proven what’s possible when countries, donors, organizations, and communities work together toward a powerful goal. The malaria fight is one of the most inspiring global health stories of our time, and the future is bright. Join us in pledging to finish what we started: we won’t stop until we’ve made malaria history!
- Dr. Rick Steketee is the project director of the Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership at PATH.