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Submitted by Doctor Michel ODIKA on
CAUSE FOR CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM... This is the sort of news we all need. In concrete terms, Congo-Brazzaville, malaria-endemic country (Central Africa), is on track to establish the world’s first “Malaria Observatory” (1). BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT… With the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs, New York, September 2000) in sight, Congo-Brazzaville is attempting to ensure the highest possible coverage with malaria prevention and treatment programmes by the end of 2015. This will require not only adequate resources, be they human or financial, but also the strengthening of the Congolese health system, with special emphasis on governance requirements… What else? We know that malaria is still a formidable opponent, and that if we are to ultimately eradicate this disease, we need new tools, such as “open and collaborative models” (2,3)… MALARIA OBSERVATORY: MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS WITHIN REACH… Now more than ever, the response to malaria demands innovative approaches. In other words, only multisectoral responses – i.e. multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks – can be helpful in reaching and achieving most of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), notably those related to: - mitigating the damaging impact of poverty (MDG I); - rolling back child mortality (MDG IV); - improving mother and child health (MDG V); - fighting… malaria (MDG VI); - promoting environmental safety and sustainability (MDG VII); - fostering partnerships for development on a global scale (MDG VIII). MALARIA OBSERVATORY: PATH TO OPTIMAL COVERAGE… While much remains to be done, high-burden countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, can save millions of lives (4) and billions of dollars over the coming years by scaling up evidence-based, effective and cost-efficient policies (5). At the same time, however, the worst-affected countries will need to support operational research as an integral part of malaria programming, so that they can learn as they implement and continuously refine their delivery strategies… MALARIA OBSERVATORY: IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME… Malaria Observatories constitute a critical component of the long-term strategy against a public-health issue of the highest priority. Otherwise said, these platforms for better governance can be regarded as “Timely Public health Intelligence”. Why? Plausible answer: “There is no method but to be intelligent” (Thomas ELIOT, poet and dramatist). So it is with the global response to malaria… Credible answer: “Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say” (W.H. AUDEN, poet). So it is with the multisectoral response to malaria… ULTIMATELY… The power of a Malaria Observatory must be matched by the capacity to deliver adequate interventions to all who need them. If malaria-affected countries fail to meet this crucial requirement, then they will have squandered a tremendous… opportunity (6,7). Doctor Michel ODIKA (Project coordinator, Congo-Brazzaville) 1. Michel ODIKA (Projet de société, République du Congo): “Observatoire du Paludisme: projet de souveraineté sanitaire” ( 2. Michel ODIKA (Malaria Atlas Project, 2010): “Malaria Observatory – Human Development Project” ( 3. Michel ODIKA (Tribune de Genève, 2011): “Observatoires du Paludisme: carte à jouer » ( 4. Jeffrey SACHS (Scientific American, 2007): « Ending Malaria Deaths in Africa » ( 5. Michel ODIKA (Tribune de Genève, 2011): “Observatoire du Paludisme: genèse et exégèse d’un projet » 6. James FRIES (New England Journal of Medicine, 1993): “Reducing health care costs by reducing the need and demand for medical services” ( 7. WHO/ World Malaria Report 2010 (