The Columbia Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Program works to create, lead, and add momentum to efforts to combat malaria and NTDs by ensuring that additional attention and resources are allocated to the fight against these preventable diseases. The Program collaborates with national malaria and neglected tropical disease programs and provides them technical support for an integrated package of interventions and monitoring and evaluation to enable them to undertake sustained scaled-up control efforts.
The mission of the Columbia Malaria and NTDs Program is to create a platform for advancing research for the development and implementation of sustainable malaria and NTDs control programs, with the goal of achieving virtual elimination of malaria and NTDs in developing countries.
Through research, technological advances, sharing of best practices, partnerships, and innovative new approaches to improving public health, the Earth Institute has helped achieve significant reductions in the malaria burden both through high-impact quick wins and longer term programs. Programs including the Millennium Village project, Quick Impact Initiative, and Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve Millennium Development Goal 6 which focuses on combating malaria as well as HIV/AIDS and other diseases. As shown in the recent Harvests of Development progress report, Millennium Village communities saw a nearly 60% average reduction in malaria prevalence in their first three years, supported by a sevenfold increase in the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, and the use of artimisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). More information on our specific programs can be found in “Our Work”.
Despite the fact that malaria is a preventable disease, each year it affects approximately 247 million people and causes over one million deaths, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the leading cause of death for children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa and disproportionately affects impoverished women and children.
It is estimated that malaria-related sickness and mortality cost African economies $12 billion annually due to decreased ability to work, missed school, and healthcare costs, yet a fraction of this amount, $4.2 billion per year, could adequately address the problem. While funding has increased in recent years we remain short of this target, with only $1.1 billion spent on malaria efforts in 2008.
Despite these stark figures, malaria infection rates have been shown to decrease by 50% in areas where large-scale prevention and treatment campaigns have been employed. Furthermore, many countries embarked on ambitious anti-malaria campaigns 50 years ago as part of a global effort to eradicate malaria. Malaria cases were greatly reduced, but funding and political will to accomplish the initiative declined, leaving the work unfinished and, in many countries, leading to a resurgence in infection and mortality.
Malaria can consume a considerable amount of a country’s health expenditures; in some countries it accounts for: