By Manny Lewis
Communications Associate, MACEPA
Last year was an exciting time in the battle against malaria, with significant advances in resources and new tools adding momentum to the fight. The following is a roundup of the top five malaria-related stories of the past year, as determined by no algorithm whatsoever. So crank up Sarah McLaclan’s “I will remember you” and take a stroll down memory lane, as we look at five moments that made malaria history in 2013.
1. Focus on elimination: Elimination took center stage at the two preeminent malaria conferences, the Pan-African Multisectoral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) conference in October, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Annual Meeting in November, demonstrating the world’s growing commitment to stopping transmission of the disease once and for all.
2. Record levels of global support: $12 billion was pledged to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during last month’s replenishment conference—a 30 percent increase over the previous replenishment in 2010 and the largest amount ever pledged to date. And while we’re here, let’s not overlook the massive fist bump that the US Congress gave The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the form of the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013.
3. More lives saved: A big takeaway from this year’s World Malaria Report was new data showing that more lives were saved from malaria over the previous decade than originally thought, with deaths in young children falling by 51 percent since the year 2000.
4. Innovations: A semisynthetic version of artemisinin was launched during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Sanofi plant in Garessio, Italy, last April, thus bolstering the world’s supply of this key ingredient of malaria treatments by 35 tons, and reducing the world’s supply of ribbons by one. Meanwhile, vaccine candidates also made great strides in 2013. Initial trials found Sanaria’s PfSPZ vaccine candidate to be 100% effective in preventing infection of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, while the RTS,S vaccine candidate, over 18 months of follow up in a late-stage study, showed the promising results of cutting the number of malaria cases in young children nearly in half and reducing the malaria cases in infants by roughly a quarter.
5. World Malaria Day: 2013’s edition of the annual day calling attention to malaria efforts worldwide was particularly noteworthy as: in Zambia and Zimbabwe, a cross-border partnership was forged; in Senegal, investment was reaffirmed and celebrated; and in the US there were, among other things, a resolution in Congress, a tip of the cap to investment, and, of course, photo booths.