MMV@20: Leaders say innovative tools still needed to conquer malaria

The war against malaria will not be won without increased innovation for new, transformative tools, Dr David Reddy, CEO, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) has said.

Speaking while marking the 20th Anniversary of the MMV, Dr Davd noted that those last 20 years have offered this war vital lessons.

“Today is a chance for us to acknowledge the incredible work of researchers across the world who have been and who continue to be at the forefront of malaria research and innovation. Not only is this an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned over the past 20 years it’s an opportunity to look ahead and ensure we continue to focus on finding new and innovative solutions that will ultimately eradicate this preventable and treatable disease.,” said Dr David.

Since its foundation in 1999, when there were virtually no malaria medicines in the global development pipeline, MMV has developed the largest portfolio of antimalarial drugs in the world and launched 11 new antimalarial medicines that are already accessible to patients. Today there are 27 antimalarial drugs in product development; MMV and partners are committed to harnessing the latest and most exciting technologies available to address drug resistance and block onward transmission. Through partnerships between researchers, pharmaceutical companies and malaria programmes delivering medicines on the ground, MMV has helped save an estimated 2.2 million lives in malaria-endemic countries since the launch of its first co-developed drug in 2009.

Malaria elimination will contribute to the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), significantly improving health and economies. MMV works with partners to ensure its malaria interventions support the WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS) and wider objectives, including reducing malaria case incidence and mortality rates by at least 90% by 2030.

Leaders of malaria-endemic countries across Africa and the Asia-Pacific have pledged to accelerate malaria elimination through domestic funding and by creating an enabling policy environment for the introduction of new tools to boost innovation and access to medicines.

His Majesty King Mswati III, chair of the African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (ALMA) for example said “African leaders are racing to meet the target we set for malaria elimination by 2030. Increasing domestic resources for malaria so that we can scale-up and sustain universal coverage and ensure medicines can be accessed by those who need them most is our top priority. We also commit to continue to address drug and insecticide resistance through investment in constant innovation and ensuring new solutions are made available. We commend all partners who have joined us on this critical journey, including MMV who is using data to identify gaps in innovation and developing new tools that will ensure we win this fight. I hope to be celebrating our countries eliminating malaria in the coming years. We will achieve a malaria-free Africa!”

Dr Benjamin Rolfe, CEO, Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance adds that Asia is providing key lessons. – China, for example, has achieved nearly 3 years with zero indigenous malaria cases, Malaysia has reported no indigenous human malaria cases in 2018, and India reported a 24% fall in malaria cases between 2016 and 2017.

Yet multi-drug resistance in the Mekong region to Plasmodium falciparum, a deadly parasite found across the continent, is posing a threat to global health security. Now, it is more important than ever to ensure that citizens have access to innovative, effective medicines and scale-up efforts to defeat malaria. As we celebrate the progress made by MMV over the past 20 years, we reaffirm our commitment to increasing access to treatments for the disease and tackling resistance through the development of transformative medicines for malaria.”

Despite global efforts saving over 7 million lives from malaria since 2000, a child still dies of malaria every two minutes. MMV remains committed to addressing the ongoing burden of malaria by discovering, developing and delivering transformative new medicines. Recently, MMV has launched the Malaria Drug Development Catalyst, a new legal and scientific framework, enabling pharmaceutical companies to collaborate more effectively in the development of new drug combinations.

MMV is also playing a key role in facilitating the first African antimalarial manufacturer to achieve WHO prequalification of their product to protect pregnant women as well as improving cost-effectiveness, availability and access to quality-standard drugs in the region.

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