World Malaria Day 2023
Today, April 25th, we recognise World Malaria Day. It is an occasion to highlight the impact that this disease has on the under-served populations in endemic countries; to galvanise global efforts to end malaria and emphasise the need for sustained political commitment and continued investment for malaria control and elimination.
Since the year 2000, the scale-up of interventions in countries, supported by global partnerships and sustained investment, has transformed the fight against malaria – preventing 2 billion malaria cases, saving 11.7 million lives, and putting eradication within reach.
However, significant challenges lie ahead. Insecticide and drug resistance, new biological threats, the impact of climate change and humanitarian emergencies, as well as funding gaps and pressure on resources threaten to stall progress toward malaria eradication goals.
The theme of this year’s World Malaria Day, ‘Innovate, Invest and Implement’, highlights the role that innovation plays, across the malaria community, to address the future challenges.
IVCC has had the responsibility of steering investments from various funding organisations over the past 15+ years into the development and delivery of new vector control tools, in partnership with industry.
Investments over the last decade have been successful, with new products (both in ITNs and IRS insecticides) developed and deployed and delivering impact in countries.
Insecticide resistance remains one of the biggest threats to achieving malaria elimination. Industry engagement and support via partnership with IVCC, have delivered innovations to address this threat.
Products such as the recently WHO-PQ listed VECTRON™ T500, a new indoor residual spray product, developed by Mitsui Chemicals Crop & Life Solutions, Inc. containing TENEBENAL™; Interceptor® G2 from BASF, a dual active ingredient net for which a WHO-GMP Policy Recommendation was just finalised; and previously WHO-PQ Listed products such as Actellic®300CS (co-developed by Syngenta), SumiShield™ 50WG (developed by Sumitomo Chemical) and Fludora® Fusion (developed by Bayer), contain different modes of action which can be rotated by country malaria control programs, expand the available toolbox, and are critical to preserve the long-term effectiveness of insecticide-based vector control interventions.
The pipeline for the future also shows promise; particularly for resistance management – with some brand-new insecticide modes of action potentially available for use on ITNs. But it is by no means certain. Solutions to address other threats (e.g. residual transmission and outdoor biting) are needed.
Technically, it is feasible to address some of these challenges – we know how to develop and deliver the needed innovation, but it will take continued engagement and/or investment from all relevant sectors. We must deliver on the current pipeline of existing tools and at the same time identify new solutions to address emerging challenges. It is critical that this is done together with country programs and implementing partners to ensure local relevance and impact amongst the countries and people that need them.
Where there are significant economic barriers to product innovation for industry, incentives are needed to encourage innovators to support the development of public health tools. The signing of the US EPA Vector Expedited Review Voucher (VERV), championed by IVCC following a policy proposal by Duke University, into law in late 2022 is an example of an initiative to stimulate investment in the development of innovative vector control solutions to help advance malaria elimination.
Market access activities, such as the catalytic market shaping work under the Unitaid and Global Fund supported New Nets Project (NNP), are a crucially important for introducing and implementing new innovation. The NNP laid the foundation for ensuring equitable and affordable access to new dual active ingredient nets such as Interceptor® G2 and Royal Guard® (developed by Disease Control Technologies). As we move toward the introduction of novel interventions to address challenges in the future, that there will be benefits to, indeed a need for, similar approaches.
On this World Malaria Day, IVCC highlights the challenges on the road to malaria elimination, what role vector control plays in addressing them, and echoes this year’s World Malaria Day theme of ‘Innovate, Invest and Implement’ as the crucial components necessary to end malaria.