Swiss malaria researchers have been hard at work in Ifakara for more than 50 years to help solve health problems of Tanzanian citizens, including malaria. The Swiss-supported Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) has established and evaluated the impact of innovative approaches to combat malaria through collaborative work with the NMCP of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.
IHI science contributed in a major way towards new technical approaches in malaria control and elimination during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) decade. IHI provided evidence that insecticide treated nets (ITN) are effective in reducing young children’s deaths due to malaria; documented that ITN scale-up through voucher subsidies enhances access to ITNs by pregnant women and young children; developed public private partnerships with small private pharmacies as accredited outlets for malaria diagnosis and treatments; and undertook Africa’s first malaria vaccine trials showing partial protection of children from severe disease.
Over the last decade and a half, Tanzania has made massive progress in malaria control. Today, many more families face much lower risk and children survive to become active youths! Whereas in 2000, half the population lived in areas where infection occurred every night. Only 10 districts out of 184 in Tanzania are still exposed to these daily high malaria risks. These results were achieved through partnership between the Government of Tanzania and the Global Fund, Switzerland, UK Aid, USAID, and many others.
Results from the malaria survey in 2017 (Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics) show that average malaria prevalence was halved by 50% over the last three years to 7%. The challenge of sustaining these gains and the call for creating subnational malaria free zones is growing. The Embassy of Switzerland recently facilitated the development of a malaria elimination partnership between Tanzania malaria control partners and China. China will be able to make available to the NMCP technical and operational strategies that it has used to eliminate the scourge from nearly all its territory.
Switzerland is also cognizant that malaria elimination is only possible if neighboring countries adhere to the same goals and targets. For these reasons, the Embassy of Switzerland has engaged in policy dialogue with regional economic entities such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), as well as with the SADC-based “Malaria Elimination 8” group.
In support of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, Switzerland remains strongly committed to the malaria elimination agenda through its Health Foreign Policy, Universal Health Coverage strategy and its political Bern Malaria Declaration.