Top Stories : Statement by H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, at a Lunch Discussion organized by Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) to celebrate World Malaria Day 2015, Tuesday, 21 April 2015, entitled:  “Speaking from an Asia-Pacific perspective, providing insight on country-specific efforts and the importance of regional collaboration to help overcome challenges like resistance and advance progress toward malaria elimination” News

Top Stories : Statement by H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, at a Lunch Discussion organized by Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) to celebrate World Malaria Day 2015, Tuesday, 21 April 2015, entitled: “Speaking from an Asia-Pacific perspective, providing insight on country-specific efforts and the importance of regional collaboration to help overcome challenges like resistance and advance progress toward malaria elimination”

Lunch Discussion, Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)
World Malaria Day 2015, Tuesday, 21 April 2015

“Speaking from an Asia-Pacific perspective, providing insight on country-specific efforts and the importance of regional collaboration to help overcome challenges like resistance and advance progress toward malaria elimination”

 

Mr. Verhoosel, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,

I am pleased to join all of you today for this year’s World Malaria Day and to speak about how my region, and in particular Thailand, has been working to tackle malaria and our view on the road ahead.

Let me start today’s talk with one simple message: no one country, no matter how rich or how developed, can deal with malaria alone.  Diseases are borderless.  You are only safe when your neighbours are safe. 

Permit me therefore to share with you some of Thailand’s experience in dealing with malaria.  At the country level, we have developed a six-prong malaria elimination tactic[1], and most recently, a National Strategic Plan on Surveillance, Prevention and Control of Malaria for 2014 – 2019. 

Under this Plan, there are a number of key strategies that I wish to highlight. 

The first strategy is to interrupt malaria transmission.

The second strategy is to improve the quality of treatments and expand the treatment service areas to cover the entire country. 

The third strategy is to develop a long-term measure at an institutional level for malaria control.

The fourth strategy is capacity building of human resources at all levels.  This investment in human resources has resulted in a group of staff capable in the field of malaria management, an asset which has been key to Thailand’s success in the control of malaria over the past decades. 

Lastly, the final strategy is to develop supporting systems, for example, a disease surveillance system. 

Despite out efforts over the past decades, we have come to realize that tackling malaria needs further collaboration from all concerned.  Being situated geographically in the middle of mainland Southeast Asia, and the fact that artemisinin resistant malaria has been found predominantly along Thailand’s borders with neighbouring countries, further highlights the need to cooperate.  In order to solve the problem within, Thailand needed to reach out.

We are therefore working closely with neighbouring countries on malaria.  For example, since 2008, we have been working with Cambodia on malaria control in Ratanakiri and Montonkiri Province.  In 2013-2014, Thailand worked trilaterally with USAID and Myanmar.  In order to nip malaria at the bud, Thailand’s health system has granted malaria a special status where its prevention, diagnosis and treatment is free for anyone staying in Thailand, whether or not they are Thai nationals.

We are also working within the context of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region or GMS.  With the decreasing trend of malaria over the last ten years, our hope is to eliminate the disease altogether.  The Asia-Pacific region is echoing this hope by working towards a region free of malaria by 2030, a goal which was endorsed at the 9th East Asia Summit in Myanmar last November. 

The effort to combat malaria is supported by the WHO through its launch of the Framework for Action 2013-2015 (Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance) in 2013.  With the regional goal set and with the help of the WHO framework, the Asia-Pacific region is working with all relevant partners to coordinate malaria interventions for all at-risk groups, to streamline field operations, obtain better information for containing artemisinin resistance and to strengthen regional oversight and support.  The Asia-Pacific region recognizes that we must act quickly, and together, to combat malaria.  Addressing the emergence of artemisinin resistant malaria in the GMS has become a public health priority for the region as a whole.

To this end, we look forward to sharing our past experience and to working with other GMS and ASEAN countries on the elimination of malaria.  The challenge may be even tougher with our region opening up to the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, bringing with it increased flows of peoples, especially along border areas.  Nonetheless, we truly hope, and we are confident, that given our partnership, we can achieve our goal of the elimination of malaria from Thailand by 2024 and the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

Let me just leave you with one sobering fact. As we mark this year’s World Malaria Day, 1,600 people will have died from malaria today alone; that’s more than one per minute. By working together, we can roll back malaria and this we must do. This year’s World Malaria Day slogan, Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria, is therefore very timely.

I thank you.



[1] 1) program implementation, certification, and monitoring and evaluation, 2) drug resistance elimination, 3) diagnosis and treatment, 4) surveillance and investigation, 5) vector surveillance and vector control , and 6) risk communication, behavourial change communication and community management.