Accelerating malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Last update: 23 February 2017

Eliminating malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) will require urgent and coordinated action by affected countries, with support from implementing agencies, funders and other partners. WHO is committed to helping countries achieve their malaria goals through:

  • setting and disseminating global guidance and policies on malaria control and elimination;
  • supporting countries as they adapt, adopt and implement WHO global norms and standards for malaria control and elimination;
  • assisting countries in the implementation of national malaria strategic plans;
  • helping countries develop robust malaria surveillance systems;
  • responding to requests from countries to address biological threats, operational emergencies and bottleneck issues.

This technical support is provided by WHO experts based at 6 country offices, regional offices in New Delhi and Manila, a regional hub in Cambodia and the Global Malaria Programme in Geneva.

Improving access to quality antimalarial medicines

High quality, efficacious antimalarial medicines are the cornerstone of effective malaria case management, and their availability must be ensured. Poor quality medicines not only adversely affect the health and lives of patients but also damage the credibility of health care programmes, increase the burden on health systems, and can contribute to drug resistance.

In recent years, national malaria programmes in the GMS, with support from WHO, have made significant strides in eliminating counterfeit and substandard medicines. The production and marketing of oral artemisinin-based monotherapies (oAMT) have been banned across the subregion. National supply chains have been strengthened to improve the availability of high quality drugs in areas where they are needed. To achieve elimination, these efforts must be continued and enhanced.

Strengthening surveillance

To achieve malaria elimination, strong surveillance systems must be in place. Data collected through these systems helps countries understand who is affected by the disease, how trends in malaria cases and deaths are changing, and what impact programmatic efforts are having. This information is then used by national programmes to inform planning and action.

In recent years, WHO and partners have worked to strengthen the design and management of malaria surveillance systems across the GMS. With support from WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a web-based platform was launched in May 2016 to help countries share and analyse data on the malaria burden from regional to district level. The platform will serve as an important tool for strengthening malaria surveillance and response strategies across the subregion, and globally.

Reaching mobile and migrant populations

All people living in malaria-endemic areas must have equal access to tools that prevent and treat the disease. Migrant and mobile populations (MMPs) are at high risk of becoming infected with malaria. They are also among the hardest populations to protect from this disease.

While countries in the GMS have reduced their overall malaria burden in recent years, malaria cases within marginalized groups like migrant and mobile populations represent a high proportion of total cases. WHO supports national programmes to design and implement strategies to better target MMPs.

Together with partners, WHO has also supported the implementation of innovative approaches such as:

  • training migrant workers as mobile health volunteers so that they can provide malaria information, testing and treatment for their peers;
  • providing malaria prevention and treatment services (mosquito nets, rapid diagnostic testing and antimalarial medicines) in areas frequented by MMPs such as forest entry points, border crossings and bus stations.