The fight against Malaria:
No-one can go at this alone

 

April 25 is #WorldMalariaDay and this year the global movement seeks to re-energize the fight to eliminate the disease. Malaria is the deadliest vector-borne disease, threatening half of the global population.

Sinead Duffy

Dr. Jackie Applegate

Head of Vegetable Seeds and Environmental Science at Bayer

As I reflect on this past year, I am proud of the commitments and impacts that Bayer and other leading agricultural companies are making to eradicate malaria. Every time I say ‘eradicate malaria’ aloud, I find myself taking a pause to imagine the possibilities.

Malaria is the deadliest vector-borne disease, threatening half of the global population. Every two minutes a child in Africa dies of this preventable disease. We are seeing over 200 million cases annually and almost half a million deaths. Action is needed now, more than ever.

Every two minutes a child in Africa dies of this preventable disease.

As a healthcare and agricultural company, our role is to seek out innovative solutions to prevent vector-borne diseases, like our recent launch of Fludora® Fusion. Unlike any other product, this indoor residual spray (IRS) combines two unrelated modes of action, providing optimum effectiveness under conditions of insecticide resistance.

However, as industry leaders, our job is also to educate, advocate and most importantly build and foster partnerships to drive progress for the fight against malaria. No one will win this fight alone.

This year marks the one-year anniversary of ZeroX40, a global initiative signed by five leading agriculture organizations (Bayer, BASF, Mitsui Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical and Syngenta), coordinated by the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) and supported by its funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, we reaffirmed our commitment to eradicate malaria by 2040.

This commitment is also a reflection of our collective beliefs that it will take the cooperation and collaboration of many global stakeholders in order to end malaria. We all firmly believe that it is possible.

Almost 80 percent of malaria cases since 2000 have been averted thanks to vector control solutions. 80 percent! However, millions are still at risk.

Here is the scary part. We have reached a critical point in this journey. If we are not careful, the trajectory of progress will slow down or even reverse itself.

In the latest World Malaria report, The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that they continue to see signs that progress is leveling off with the number of malaria deaths remaining virtually unchanged over the last year.

We need to maintain and increase the effort and commitment

Why? There are a number of contributing factors, but both insecticide resistance (limiting the effectiveness of current tools) and the behaviour of mosquitoes (which require new types of tools) play a large role.

We need to maintain and increase the effort and commitment in order to achieve coverage with our existing vector control tools. But, we also need to expand that toolkit to address the needs of getting to the final stages of elimination. That means a shared commitment from all partners; in funding; in product innovation; in development of new funding and distribution models and in engagement of other sectors beyond health, to name a few.

Other emerging challenges to the efforts surrounding commitment and momentum include reliance on global funding, changing demographics or the simple fact that malaria is predominately a rural disease. People in cities feel removed from it, but that could not be further from the truth. This is why education and awareness is more important than ever.

So what can you do? Educate yourself and get involved. As with many of the world’s biggest challenges, no one person or company or even industry can go at this alone. The effort takes scientists, technology, data analysts, global communicators, entrepreneurs, STEM and STEAM, government and NGOs – it is going to take everyone to create and keep the momentum we need to eradicate malaria. We are going to need ideas we do not even know exist.

So, what is your idea? #ZeroMalariaStartswithMe

To learn more about vector control or the fight against malaria, visit www.vectorcontrol.bayer.com, follow @BayerMalaria, @Bayer4Crops or track the conversation #WorldMalariaDay #ZeroMalariaStartswithMe.