This week it's World Malaria Day. A day during which, around the world, activities are undertaken to raise awareness for our cause: a world free of malaria. A day to reflect: How are we progressing towards our goal? A day to talk to our friends about what we do - raise awareness. A day also to celebrate the successes of the last decade - no doubt, these are impressive. But also a day to tell the world that without investments, serious investments, progression towards global eradication will slowly grind to a halt. A day to appeal with our governments and other funding bodies that the challenge is still huge, but that we cannot give up. We started with the 'e-words' in October 2007 in Seattle, now we have to live up to our pledge...
Nobody says it will be easy. Many of us spend all our time coming up with new tools we so desperately need to make the dent in malaria even bigger. From new drugs to vaccines, to new insecticides and novel vector control tools and diagnostics. We all chip in with that common goal in mind.
Interestingly though, we often tend to overlook that malaria has been eliminated from more than 100 countries around the world. Not just countries in the temperate zones, but also in the tropics. And in places where malaria was as rampant and destructive as we see in many parts of Africa today. So rather than looking forward to new tools hopefully hitting the scene one day, should we also not look backward and try to understand more about the underlying factors for success in countries that eliminated malaria, often long time ago? Before the advent of computers, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, mobile telephones, and so on. What can we learn from the past and apply (even better) today?
This question was addressed during a meeting that was held in Jerusalem in December 2013 - hosted by the Hebrew University. We reported briefly on the meeting on MalariaWorld (click here). The meeting was generously sponsored by: Kuvin Foundation, Braun School of Public Health & Community Medicine; Hebrew University, Faculty of Medicine-Hadassah; Hadassah; British Friends of Hebrew University; Pears Foundation (UK); Jewish National Fund/Keren Keyemeth LeIsrael; TEVA; and The Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (click here for more information and the programme of the first day).
It brought together 20 scientists from around the world (hence the 'J20' conference - 20 people in Jerusalem). They deliberated for a full week on historical aspects of malaria elimination in order to distill a common declaration that could be shared with the global malaria community. We do this now, to commemorate World Malaria Day 2014, and make a collective statement on how we view the path towards malaria eradication.
First we would like to tell you more about the 'Why' of this conference - read it here. Also some pictures there taken during the meeting.
Next, we explain why this meeting was organised in Israel - it all had to do with the elimination of malaria from Israel and the key involvement of a 'little big man', Prof. Israel Kliger. Read the story (and an article on him) here.
Last, and perhaps most important, we present you with the Declaration - click here to read it.
Within the coming weeks, a full report of the meeting will become available and posted on MalariaWorld. We will notify you once it is there.
Obviously we are keen to receive your feedback on the Declaration - please let us know what you think.