Creating Malaria-Free Communities

In the last decade, remarkable progress has been made in the fight against malaria. Investments in rapid, nationwide delivery of proven lifesaving tools have led to dramatic results: since 2000, child deaths dropped by 20 percent in countries that aggressively fought malaria and more than 300,000 child deaths from malaria were prevented in 2010 alone.

Building on this progress, countries achieving major reductions in malaria illnesses and deaths have the potential to create malaria-free communities and eliminate malaria by focusing on driving down infections through optimizing the use of diagnostics and treatments, maintaining high coverage of bed nets and indoor residual spraying, and using advanced surveillance methods to track and treat the remaining cases.

Some countries are now pioneering the use of a three-step surveillance system to establish malaria-free zones—large areas where no malaria transmission exists. Countries with strong data systems can better track malaria infections and prioritize program action, while leveraging information about coverage gaps and impact to inform policymaking and secure continued funding.

New approaches and strategies are essential to reducing malaria transmission and eventually eliminating the infection.

Core strategies for elimination

  1. Maintaining high levels of prevention coverage reached through scale-up.
  2. Ensuring clinical malaria infections are promptly diagnosed with quality laboratory methods (e.g., microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests and treated with the national standard antimalarial drug).
  3. Implementing a set of locally-based strategies to proactively clear malaria infection in entire communities and establishing infection surveillance systems that will identify and contain remaining focal transmission.
  4. Transitioning the national evaluation program to monitor infection transmission and establish the ability to document and hold infection transmission at zero.

Today, nearly one-third of all countries affected by malaria are on course to eliminate the disease in the next decade. Now, it is time to build on the progress made in the fight against malaria and ensure that the approaches, technologies, and political commitment are in place to eradicate malaria.

Learn more about how malaria can be eliminated: http://www.ajtmh.org/content/85/4/584.full.