IOM, the UN Migration Agency joins the World Health Organization (WHO), the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and other partners to End Malaria for Good, and bring attention to how the burden of malaria continues to be greatest in the least developed parts of the world and among those with low socioeconomic status.
According to WHO, at the start of 2016, nearly half the world’s population was still at risk of malaria. There is, therefore, an urgent need to pursue multi-sectoral efforts to achieve by 2030 such targets as reducing the rate of new malaria cases by at least 90 percent, eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries, and preventing a resurgence of infection in malaria-free countries.
As the global health community renews its commitment to action against malaria, it is important to bear in mind that several groups of migrants, mobile populations and travellers remain at disproportionately high risk for malaria, including drug and insecticide resistance.
Countries aiming for malaria-free status cannot do so without addressing equitable provision of health services, including health education, accessible diagnosis and effective treatment for migrants, especially those living or working in endemic areas.
In this regard, the Director of IOM’s Migration Health Division, Dr. Davide Mosca said: “Goals, milestones and targets of the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 cannot be achieved if migrants and mobile populations are left behind in malaria prevention, treatment and care programmes.”
Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) resistance is also a growing concern. According to the WHO World Malaria Report of 2016, parasite resistance to artemisinin – the core compound of the best available antimalarial medicines – has now been detected in five countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), namely Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam and Myanmar. In these countries, IOM missions are engaged in malaria programmes with funding support from donors such as the Asian Development Bank, the Global Fund and the IOM Development Fund.
Any regional elimination efforts will need to provide continuous, coordinated and comprehensive malaria services to all populations throughout the GMS regardless of their immigration status, rather than a piecemeal approach to geographical borders and local populations that reside within.
Similarly, in the context of crises due to conflicts or natural disasters, there is often an urgent need to provide outbreak response services. For example, in South Sudan in 2016, IOM scaled up resources to respond to an upsurge in malaria cases at the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu, South Sudan.
During June 2016, malaria cases had more than doubled, accounting for at least 50 percent of all health consultations at IOM’s two primary health care clinics in the site and its mobile clinic in nearby Bentiu town. IOM worked in coordination with the Health Cluster and Population Services International (PSI) and registered all households in the site to receive mosquito nets (49,342 nets distributed to 18,010 households) to prevent further malaria transmission.
“Member States and the international community are collaborating to advance the global refugee and migrant agenda through the Global Compacts, and working together on the health and migration targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IOM stands ready to cooperate closely with partners, as well as migrant communities and affected populations, to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of migrants and mobile populations are well addressed in reaching the ambitious goal to end malaria for good,” said Dr. Mosca.