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10 March 2014
Action to improve malaria control in the Asia-Pacific region is being progressed in Australia this week.
The Secretaries of the Australian and Indian Health Departments Professor Jane Halton and Mr Lov Verma will co-chair a high level international meeting in Sydney aimed at strengthening measures to counter malaria.
Over a day and a half members of the Access to Quality Medicines and other Technologies Taskforce, which advises the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), will explore a range of options for improving the availability of, and access to, quality medicines and diagnostics to tackle malaria including the emergence of resistant strains of the disease.
Australian Health Minister Peter Dutton said the Asia-Pacific region has made significant progress in reducing the burden of malaria since 2000 and the number of malaria deaths has fallen by more than 20 per cent.
“However, malaria remains a major killer in the Asia-Pacific with approximately 36 million new cases and 49,000 deaths each year,” he said.
“The meeting will develop recommendations for Asia-Pacific leaders on urgent action to tackle drug resistance and to reduce malaria cases and deaths in the region by 75 per cent from 2000 levels by 2015."
Participants will discuss how regional countries, the World Health Organization, donors and other partners can work together to:
- ensure the use of best-practice therapies and halt the use of oral mono-therapies and medicines that do not meet international standards;
- strengthen national regulatory capacity in malaria-affected countries including through regional collaboration on standards and regulatory practices;
- improve access and affordability of quality medicines, diagnostics and other malaria control products;
- and promote the use of source controls, vector controls and other preventive measures.
The meeting will open with an overview from the World Health Organization of the burden of malaria in the Asia-Pacific and the challenge of growing resistance in some countries against artemisinin - the last remaining effective treatment for malaria.
Participants will include: the US Global Malaria Coordinator and Head of the President's Malaria Initiative, Rear Admiral Tim Zeimer; senior representatives from the Indonesian and Papua New Guinea health ministries; representatives of the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria Initiative.
Experts from Vietnam, Cambodia, other East Asia Summit member countries and the Pacific will also attend.
“The co-chairing of the meeting by the Indian and Australian health secretaries marks a new level of bilateral cooperation between the two countries on health issues,” Mr Dutton said.
The Taskforce was commissioned by East Asia Summit leaders, meeting in Brunei in October 2013 to report on options to the Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance by August this year.
Media Contact: John Wiseman – 0401 776 108