Investment in Malaria & CHWs is Investment in Pandemic Preparedness

Ian MatthewsNews

“Preparedness for the next pandemic is a choice,” proposed Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho and Robert D. Newman in an op-ed published by Think Global Health

The authors highlight the similarities in health infrastructure challenges that apply to malaria, COVID-19 and many other health issues. “[B]eating [malaria & COVID-19] will require common investments,” they write. “Malaria has thrived where there are gaps in basic health services… [and] when fragile health systems are overburdened by the need to diagnose and treat malaria, they can miss new infectious threats before they can be contained.”

The article emphasizes the importance of Community Health Workers (CHWs) as a linchpin of health infrastructure. “During an emergency,” they suggest “rather than scramble to establish new systems, governments are far better off mobilizing systems they have already invested in, with personnel who have been trained to respond,” such as CHWs.

“Investments in strengthening fragile health systems that fortify countries’ frontline malaria capacity can be leveraged effectively to respond to COVID-19.” Significantly increasing these investments in community health systems would “send a message that ending diseases like malaria, ensuring universal access to primary care services, and preventing the next pandemic are all part of the same opportunity.”

Check out the full article at this link. 

Dr. Mpanju-Shumbusho previously served as WHO Assistant Director General, and as Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication.Dr. Newman is the Executive Director of AMP Health and previously served as Global Malaria Program Director at WHO. He was a featured speaker at the recent CAMA- and GBCHealth-hosted event, Combat Malaria in Africa: Lessons and Opportunities, which took place on April 22nd. During the event, Dr. Newman also advocated for investment in leadership and management capacity strengthening. He stressed that “if we want to defeat COVID-19 and end malaria we need to invest in public sector leadership,” and that essentially there is a need to advocate for two investment in both community health systems and leadership to tackle diseases like malaria.

Ian MatthewsInvestment in Malaria & CHWs is Investment in Pandemic Preparedness