By Dr Effie Espino, APMEN Director
In 2018, the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN), together with its 18 country members and 47 partner institutions, has made significant progress in advancing the shared commitment to eliminate malaria in Asia Pacific. Renowned experts from national malaria control programs, public and private partner institutions and academia have analysed country-specific and regional challenges to develop, and importantly, implement a collective response across countries and sectors.
Working through four targeted work streams: Vector control; Surveillance and response; Vivax malaria; and Program management, APMEN has prioritized multi-county and multisectoral collaboration across the Network and beyond.
APMEN has reinforced mechanisms to share information and good practices; to build human and systems capacity; improved vector surveillance and identification techniques; developed innovative strategies to understand and engage key populations with practical vector control options; and reinforced evidence-based interventions for outdoor transmission where traditional insecticide-treated mosquito nets and spraying are not appropriate interventions.
The recent APMEN annual meeting, held from 3 to 8 September 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand led to several important and shared decisions. For example, APMEN members agreed to initiate a multi-country proof-of-concept study on vector control tools to curb outdoor transmission. With the support of a University of California in San Francisco (UCSF)-developed program management tool, APMEN members will support programs in Lao PDR and Indonesia this year, and in Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand in 2019. Finally, two interlinked mechanisms: ‘Program-to-Program’ and ‘Partner Institutions Technical Assistance’ will provide significant support to countries in 2019. Program-to-Program will provide countries in the malaria ‘burden reduction’ phase to learn directly from countries transitioning to elimination, and for countries transitioning to elimination to learn from countries aiming to eliminate by 2020. This is a good example of the unique value that APMEN provides to the region and its country members. The Partner Institutions Technical Assistance mechanism will provide national malaria programs with training and capacity building opportunities directly from APMEN partner institutions, in order to help address gaps identified by national malaria programs.
Progress in malaria elimination across the Asia-Pacific is at critical crossroads, threatened by the spread of multi-drug resistance and continued transmission among marginalized and mobile populations. APMEN will continue to intensify its efforts to develop new and improved tools, strategies and partnerships to ensure the region will see malaria elimination through.