The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) just released its Eleventh Annual Report to Congress, noting the 6.8 million deaths that have been averted since 2000 through malaria prevention and treatment efforts and between 2010 and 2015 in PMI countries, global malaria mortality has declined by an estimated 48 percent and malaria incidence by 37 percent (2015 World Malaria Report).
The 2017 PMI Report also stresses the idea that continued advancement toward malaria elimination is dependent on the scaling up of activities and on more targeted approaches to preventative efforts. These approaches must follow not only the evolution of the disease in individual countries, but also the evolution of communities themselves, which, as we understand well in social and behavior change communication (SBCC), can only be achieved by knowing our audience and how to motivate them.
The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) has dedicated itself to improving the effectiveness of SBCC programs by ensuring implementers have the tools to be as efficient as possible in the quest for universal adoption of malaria prevention and treatment behaviors. This year, we developed a collection of guidance tools to design country and context specific communication strategies on malaria and pregnancy, promoting quality malaria medicines and national strategic plans.
I am honored to work alongside people who have spent decades fighting this disease from all angles and who have made huge strides towards defeating its hold on this earth. Additionally, I am in awe of the determination and growth I have seen across institutions, agencies and countries to focus SBCC efforts on strategic design and successful outcomes rather than outputs.
So what does World Malaria Day really mean? It means that we take a moment from our busy work for a few calls to action…
- A call to donors, to truly see the numbers. Yes, we are moving forward in leaps and bounds, but let this be a reason to double our efforts, not in gross input, but in targeted proficiency. Let SBCC principles help reach that tipping point for net usage, IPTp update and the fight against falsified and substandard malaria medicines.
- A call to partners (business community, politicians, faith-based leaders) to see how defeating this disease, once and for all, will benefit everyone.
- A call to our neighbors to be an agent of change in your home, your family and your community to beat this disease and make your life better; and,
- A call to ourselves to put forth only our best efforts in developing strategic communication, assessing its true effectiveness, changing mid-course if monitoring guides us and continuing to overcome the hurdles (political, financial, epidemiological) that malaria puts in our way.
Here’s another call to action: in addition to reading and sharing PMI’s report widely, please share PMI’s by the Numbers with your networks:
For more SBCC resources on malaria, such as webinars, fact sheets and case studies, visit our HC3 resource section.