Letter from Pedro Alonso, Director Global Malaria Programme
26 March 2019
Dear malaria partners,
I wanted to update you on an exciting initiative that the WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP) is in the midst of rolling out to facilitate the potential impact of new tools and strategies. In May of last year, we launched a deep review of our malaria policy-making and dissemination processes with the aim of ensuring the timely delivery of high-quality and evidence-based guidance to Member States. This initiative was carried out under the stewardship of our former Deputy Director-General and new Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, with support from the Boston Consulting Group, and included input gathered from a broad range of stakeholders, including many of you. We sought to better understand the needs and perceived bottlenecks from innovators and manufacturers to our end users at the national level.
This 10-month exercise started with a diagnosis of our current processes, highlighting areas requiring improvement such as a perceived lack of transparency, inconsistencies in review standards, and lengthy timelines. With support and input from the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), several recommendations were developed to address the issues identified.
As you may be aware, WHO as an organization is undergoing a transformation process, led by our Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. We have collaborated with the transformation team and other departments within WHO to ensure that the improvements made to our processes are aligned with the new structure and priorities of the Organization. As a result of this collaboration, GMP is viewed as a pathfinder in systematizing our processes and as an early adopter of the transformation agenda.
The key elements of the revised policy-making process include:
- defining unmet and partially met public health needs related to malaria;
- developing and endorsing preferred product characteristics / target product profiles to stimulate innovation and provide predictability;
- conducting horizon scanning for both new products and strategies;
- ensuring a coordinated and parallel process with the WHO Prequalification (PQ) team that results in the concurrent publication of policy recommendations and prequalification of products;
- updating recommendations following WHO’s guideline process as soon as they are endorsed by MPAC; and
- improving the dissemination of malaria policy guidance at country level, as well as feedback loops to ensure utility for our end users.
From a structural point of view, MPAC remains the highest level advisory group to GMP, overseeing both policy-making and providing advice to GMP on its technical work. In order to streamline and standardize our evidence review processes, we will establish a new GMP Guidelines Development Group (GDG) that will be responsible for overseeing the development of all malaria recommendations and guidelines. The GDG will be supported as required by ad hoc Evidence Review Groups (ERGs) on specific topics. Other advisory groups and standing committees – including the Vector Control Advisory Group, the Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee and the Malaria Elimination Certification Panel – will continue to provide advice according to their terms of reference.
At the beginning of 2019, we launched internal workstreams to lead the implementation of the recommendations arising from this comprehensive review process and are now ready to start sharing some of the changes that we are making to improve our systems. This effort is a work in progress.
As a first step, we will be increasing the level of transparency around our policy process with the launch of a new section of our website in the lead-up to the next MPAC meeting on 10-12 April. You will find below a draft of our high-level diagram of the GMP Policy Pathway. We are also developing a new, user friendly section on the website to display our policy guidance; you will hear more on this in due course.
I am grateful for all of the constructive input that we have received from our partners to date. Soliciting input through effective feedback loops is a critical element in our efforts to move forward. I welcome your comments at any time through a dedicated new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I would like draw your attention to our open call for experts which will form the basis of convening the GDG as well as ERGs and other technical consultations (deadline for the GDG application is 30 April 2019). I strongly urge you to apply and appreciate your continued support to GMP.
Pedro L. Alonso MD
Director, Global Malaria Programme
Director, Global Malaria Programme