Speech of Dr Shin Young-soo WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific – Malaria Programme Managers Meeting to Review Progress on Implementation of the Regional Action Framework for Malaria Control and Elimination in the Western Pacific 2016-2020

Manila, Philippines – 25 June 2018

Distinguished representatives of ministries of health
Programme managers, advisors, partners and donors
Ladies and gentlemen

I am very pleased to welcome you to this meeting of Malaria Programme Managers – to review our collective progress on implementing the Regional Action Framework on malaria control and elimination.

We are meeting at a critical time. We have made good headway in some countries – resulting in a reduced number of malaria cases, but outbreaks in other parts of the Region have meant that our progress overall has stalled.

Last year's World Malaria Report painted a worrying picture: global progress towards controlling malaria has also slowed. Malaria continues to be a significant risk to vulnerable populations, including in our Region.

We need to get back on track towards elimination. We must ensure your countries meet the national targets you have all set for yourselves – as well as the regional and global targets we have set together for controlling and eliminating this disease.

But let’s start with some of the good news.

China reported zero indigenous malaria cases in 2017, for the first time in recent history. This is a tremendous achievement.

China, along with Malaysia and the Republic of Korea, are aiming to eliminate malaria by 2020. I encourage all three countries to keep up your great work towards this goal – which, when achieved, will show that halting indigenous malaria transmission to achieve elimination is possible in this Region.

Last month during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, ministers from the Greater Mekong sub-region countries renewed their commitment to accelerating elimination of malaria before 2030. This kind of high-level political commitment is crucial, and will help to generate momentum towards elimination – I congratulate all of the Mekong country ministers for their leadership.

There have also been some important global developments which will help to strengthen our efforts against malaria. The new Global Vector Control Response for 2017-2030 will help to streamline vector control strategies – leading to a strengthened, more coordinated response to vector borne diseases.

These are all positive developments.

But we also face some very significant challenges. For instance, in Papua New Guinea, the disease has been on the rise in recent years. In fact, the number of cases reported from Papua New Guinea amounts to over 80% of the total number of cases reported from the entire region.

We must step up our efforts to halt transmission of the disease in affected countries – through improved access to diagnosis and effective antimalarial medicines, as well as strengthened surveillance, including case-based surveillance in areas of low transmission.

Some countries face continued difficulties in providing universal access to quality-assured interventions such as diagnostics and medicines. This may be the result of at-risk populations being poorly targeted, because the surveillance systems are not in place to ensure the medicines are getting to the places they are needed most. I know many of you also face challenges in procurement and supply management, as well as financial constraints.

We are here this week to have a frank discussion about how to tackle these kinds of challenges – and what support you need from WHO and other partners to do this.

We are nearing the mid-point of implementing the Regional Action Framework. This is exactly the right time to be taking stock of progress being made by each of your countries towards achieving national and regional targets, and where we are off track, taking corrective action as necessary.

This is crucial if we are to achieve the elimination goals we have set for ourselves. And we must, because every case of malaria prevented is one more person who can work and provide for their family, and contribute to the country’s development. Every case of malaria averted in a child is another child who can attend school — another life almost certainly saved.

Thank you for making the effort to be here this week – we greatly appreciate your time and commitment. For WHO’s work, we are here to support your important work in this area in any way we can.

I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your fruitful discussions.

Thank you and have a good stay in Manila.