Ending Malaria Needs to Focus on Poverty: Quick Fixes Won’t Cut It

“In the light of this, the plausible way for Africa to eliminate malaria will be to locate the fight against malaria within the broader economic development agenda. This will require national governments to stop pursuing quick fix solutions that address the symptoms. Policies that tackle the underlying causes of malaria transmission must be adopted.”

“Since then, the focus of malaria prevention strategies shifted away from programmes linked to economic development. Instead they began to focus on short term and repetitive interventions based on drugs and insecticides.

This, in turn, set off an evolution arms race in the malaria research community to come up with solutions to fix the problem of mosquitoes developing resistance to insecticides.”

“To achieve malaria elimination on the continent, Africans need to own the agenda. External partners must support the local agenda and avoid any sense of supremacy. This can be done in a number of steps.

The first would be for African politicians, economists, scientists, and their partners to rethink the current approach to malaria elimination. They should develop a strategy that is locally driven, long term and embedded in a larger country development plan. And African governments need to reduce their over-reliance on external aid and increase local funding for health. External handouts have rarely resolved a serious societal problem. Malaria is unlikely to be the exception.

The second step would be to invest in educating a critical mass of African malariologists with a broad and relevant understanding of the links between malaria, poverty and local economic and social development strategies. This understanding should be the basis for generating operational research questions that address the real bottlenecks for malaria elimination.

In this context, technology should be exploited as an enabler of a broader development programme.

Finally, the third step would be to empower affected communities to participate in the fight against malaria. Africa is home to a growing and young population. It should be leveraged to implement innovative community-based interventions against the disease.”


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