By Rick Steketee, MACEPA project director
The beginning of the 21st century marked a time of renewed effort to reduce the burden of malaria worldwide. Ambitious goals were set for the global malaria community and billions of dollars in funding emerged to push back in earnest against a beatable disease that the world agreed had run rampant for far too long.
MACEPA’s story began in this period of optimism and determination. In 2005, with strong support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), a program at PATH, began working with a number of African countries—we are currently engaging with the ministries of health in Ethiopia, Senegal, and Zambia—to build the scientific and programmatic approaches needed to effectively defeat malaria.
MACEPA: A Decade of Impact chronicles the ways we’re proud to have contributed to the substantial progress demonstrated in our partner countries. The document also describes the methods that have facilitated this progress—all of which flow from the central tenet that when countries have an effective package of tools, applying them to large populations leads to remarkable success.
And this success is palpable. Worldwide, an estimated 6.8 million malaria deaths have been averted since 2001—94 percent in Africa. What began as a desire to control the disease has grown into a mission to end it for good. The many successes across countries have firmly secured the goal of malaria elimination on the global agenda.
Though the future is never certain—funding levels rise and fall, political climates change—a growing number of countries serve as examples of what can be accomplished if steady engagement and support is embraced. As such, this durable partnership approach may be the recipe for continued resolve to achieve and maintain malaria elimination in the coming years. Zambia alone has had four presidents, three directors of public health, and four permanent secretaries of health in the decade MACEPA has worked there; amid so much political change, the country’s commitment to defeating malaria has never wavered.
That is why the story of our first decade is inextricably linked to the stories of Ethiopia, Senegal, and Zambia; each country’s eagerness to become malaria-free has led to the progress seen thus far, and the possibility of malaria elimination.
This MACEPA partnership is our story—one that is far from finished—and we recognize it as a prologue to the hard work and success to come.