WHO launches global framework for response to malaria in urban areas

SWITZERLAND — The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Habitat have launched the Global framework for the response to malaria in urban areas, which provides guidance to city officials, health professionals, and urban planners on how to develop a comprehensive malaria response in urban areas.

By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities and other urban settings, according to the WHO, and unplanned urbanization is expected to result in a malaria disease burden that is disproportionately high among the urban poor.

Speakers at the launch also predicted that climate change would bring malaria to areas that were previously too cold for the mosquito-borne disease.

This framework promotes malaria control and elimination in urban areas. It guides city leaders, health programs, and urban planners in responding to the challenges of rapid urbanization in a targeted manner.

The strategic use of data in each urban context can inform effective, tailored responses and help build resilience against the threat of malaria and other vector-borne diseases.

The addition of malaria vaccines to the suite of prevention measures has significantly aided the fight against malaria.

These vaccines have the potential to reduce malaria-related illness and death in children under the age of five, who are currently among the most vulnerable populations to the disease.

The WHO granted the vaccine prequalification status in September 2022, which is a significant step toward the equitable rollout of Mosquirix.

Following approval comes the prequalification stage. It ensures that United Nations agencies and other major donors only procure and distribute high-quality products.

Recently, researchers from Burkina Faso and Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, which developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, made their own discovery.

They released promising results from a clinical trial evaluating the novel R21 malaria vaccine.

The R21 vaccine, like Mosquirix, targets the sporozoite. This is the stage of the malaria parasite that is transmitted to humans when a malaria-infected female Anopheles mosquito feeds on human blood.

When both vaccines are effective, sporozoites are destroyed before they enter the liver. It prevents malaria infection by interrupting the parasite’s life cycle in the human host.

Other notable investments that have gone into malaria fight include the most recent World leaders’ donation of $US14.25 billion to Global Fund Replenishment to save millions of lives from malaria.

The Global Fund Replenishment is critical to malaria efforts as it mobilizes and invests funding for malaria program financing across 94 countries.

The Global Fund has estimated that a fully replenished Global Fund would reduce malaria cases by 66%, from 239 million in 2020 to 81 million in 2026, and increase coverage of insecticide-treated nets in Africa from 43% in 2020 to 52% by 2026.

The global movement also aims to treat 550 million malaria cases through public sector systems between 2021 and 2026 and eliminate malaria from an additional six countries by 2026.

When all is said and done, cities are uniquely positioned to understand local needs and respond rapidly to changing conditions to safeguard health.

These changes require strong city leadership to implement multisectoral, health-relevant policies and public services that engage communities. The response to malaria must be an integral part of such policies and processes.

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