Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Increased funding is needed to eliminate malaria across 22 Asia-Pacific countries and save an estimated 400,000 lives, according to research published in a new collection of studies on Wellcome Open Research.

A child drawing a mosquito on a blackboard
A Cambodian child teaches his classmates what he's learned about malaria control, part of MORU's activities to raise community awareness in malaria-endemic areas of the importance of malaria prevention and the importance of early treatment. © MORU 2019. Photographer: Nicky Almasy

Although Asia-Pacific countries have made significant progress towards their goal of eliminating malaria by 2030, collection researchers warn that stagnating donor funding puts at risk national malaria control efforts and access to lifesaving drugs and other tools, and could, under one potential scenario, result in as many as 845 million more malaria cases and 3.5 million deaths.

“This evidence-based investment case for the region comes from preliminary estimates to quantify the economic benefits of eliminating malaria, which could save hundreds of thousands of lives, avoid millions of malaria cases, and generate billions in healthcare savings, as well as savings from lost wages and productivity due to illness.” said collection advisor and study author Prof Richard Maude from the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok.

“While the cost of eliminating malaria in the Asia Pacific is not insignificant, it will result in a large return on investment. For every additional dollar spent, there was predicted to be an overall economic benefit of USD $6 for the affected countries,” said lead study author Rima Shretta.

Study author Prof Lisa White of MORU adds, “We made these preliminary estimates using a first of its kind multispecies mathematical and economic modelling approach supported by estimated disease burden and from this we could develop an evidence-based investment case for the region.” 

Eliminating malaria in Asia-Pacific by 2030 is realistic, with significant human benefits – but only if adequately funded, say the study authors, who note that it is important to put pressure on donors and decision-makers to continue funding current efforts – including  fully funding the Global Fund at the upcoming replenishment conference this October.

“In the current climate of decreasing global malaria funding, countries with a lower malaria burden are becoming a lesser priority for donors, but sustained financing needs to be secured to realise this goal of P. falciparum and P. vivax elimination in the Asia-Pacific by 2030,” said study author Sheetal Silal from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“We hope to raise awareness of the need for increased investment to eliminate malaria and also the potential overall economic benefits of this investment,” said Prof Maude.

The articles in this collection include three research articles, an article on the new software tool and an editorial summarizing the new body of research. All are freely available online on Wellcome Open Research, https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/collections/cost_malaria_pred, and will undergo open peer review, where all reports are published alongside the articles with the authors’ responses.

The research is the result of partnership between the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), with funding support by the Asian Development Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government.

Media inquiries, kindly contact:  

Bangkok, Asia and Europe: John Bleho, +66.81.750.0539 (Thailand/WhatsApp)

USA: Laura J. Newman

UK:  Alanna Orpen

Similar stories

Laos’ first Pint of Science: warty newts, COVID, AI for Instagram, and more!

Organised by a grass-root community of thousands of scientists across the world, Pint of Science 2022 allowed researchers in 25 countries and over 800 cities to share their latest findings with lay folk in interesting, informal settings. Lao PDR joined the global Pint of Science family on Monday 9 May, when the first-ever Pint of Science Laos kicked off!

Patient recruitment on track in Oxford-led DeTACT trial of safe, effective drug combinations to prevent the spread of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa

Today is World Malaria Day. The global fight against malaria is at a critical point. No new antimalarial drugs are expected in the near future, and if multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria becomes established in East Africa and spreads to other parts of Africa, millions will be at risk of drug-resistant malaria infection and death. The development of triple artemisinin-based combination therapies aims to prevent or delay the emergence of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa.

PRIORITISE study team publishes results, now seeks partners

In regions where few people have received Covid-19 vaccines, health systems remain vulnerable to surges in SARS-CoV-2 infections. During the delta-wave of COVID-19 in India, for example, healthcare facilities and staff across the country struggled to cope with the surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 due to a shortage of hospital beds for people with severe cases, plus shortages of medicines and limited human resources.

Under the Mask, drama film based on testimonies of tuberculosis patients

In 2022, tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem, particularly in developing countries. On the Thai-Myanmar border, TB is an important problem among migrants, a vulnerable, very mobile population, with unstable, often difficult living conditions, insecure incomes, and poor access to health services.

TACT-CV study shows artemether–lumefantrine plus amodiaquine an effective treatment for multidrug-resistant malaria in GMS

A triple artemisinin-based combination therapy (TACT) of artemether-lumefantrine plus amodiaquine (AL+AQ) for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in areas with a high prevalence of artemisinin resistance is a well-tolerated, effective treatment for multidrug-resistant parasites, say a team of MORU-led researchers.

Study finds steady increase in WHO-validated artemisinin resistance markers in Asia

From 2002-2018, there has been a steady increase in the places and proportion of infected people reporting validated kelch13 (K13) artemisinin resistance markers, according to a study in The Lancet Microbe. This increase in artemisinin resistance threatens efforts to eliminate malaria in Asia by 2030 — and control efforts in other endemic regions. The authors say that more consistent data collection, over longer time periods in the same areas, and rapid sharing of data are needed to map the spread of resistance and better inform policy decisions.