Thu, November 25, 2021


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Malaria elimination possible with operational research

On 24 November 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) convened its second forum on using operational research in its effort to eliminate malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). This region comprises Cambodia, China’s Yunnan Province, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and contains 224 million people.

Malaria is a leading cause of illness and death in affected countries. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children, who have not yet developed immunity to malaria, and pregnant women, whose immunity has been decreased by pregnancy.

The six GMS countries aim to eliminate Plasmodium falciparum malaria – the predominant parasite species – by 2023, and all forms of malaria in the region by 2030.

Operational research continues to be an integral part of the GMS’ malaria elimination effort, and it has contributed to impressive improvements in malaria control, as well as supporting efforts to monitor drug resistance.

OR has been used by the WHO to provide timely results to inform policy-making and malaria elimination efforts. It has improved uptake of interventions and their subsequent ‘upscaling’, as well as providing cost-effective ways of combining interventions for greater impact. It has also helped preserve the effectiveness of malaria reduction methods in the face of resistance to treatment, and enabled the WHO to measure the success and impact of its work.

WHO’s Mekong Malaria Elimination (MME) programme used its second forum on operational research to focus on “the last mile of malaria elimination” in the Greater Mekong Subregion countries. The forum looked at optimal and sustainable approaches for malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, ways to facilitate linkages across the subregion and promote greater coordination between countries and agencies.

A post-forum report is expected to be published on the WHO’s GMS webpages.

The second forum built on the success of the first forum, which ran 24-25 November 2020 and brought together technical experts, researchers and partners from the WHO to present and discuss recent findings relevant to malaria elimination in the GMS. This forum discussed operational research in relation to case detection, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, the efficacy of antimalarial drugs, vector control, radical cure, testing, surveillance, epidemiology and transmission.

A report from the first forum can be downloaded here.