In an important step toward achieving malaria elimination, Vietnam officially joins the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) today. APMEN brings together countries in the Asia Pacific that have adopted a national or sub-national goal for malaria elimination, and connects them with a broad range of regional and global malaria partners to develop best practices for eliminating malaria and to efficiently address region-specific challenges, like Plasmodium vivax.
Vietnam has made great strides in improving the health of its citizens, which includes reducing the risk of malaria throughout the country. Malaria deaths have plummeted by 91% in the last decade, from 71 deaths in 2000 to 14 in 2011. Reported cases of malaria have also dropped by 85%, declining from 300,000 cases to 45,000 in 2011.
However, similar to other countries in the Asia Pacific region, Vietnam faces substantial challenges to eliminating malaria, which include the increasing spread of drug-resistant malaria parasites and continuous movement of populations between malaria-free and malaria-endemic areas. The most malarious regions in Vietnam – remote, forested areas - are also the country’s hardest places to reach, and require more responsive surveillance systems to effectively track down and treat malaria cases.
By joining APMEN, Vietnam aims to harness the region’s collective experience, research findings and program recommendations to take on the final – and perhaps most difficult – steps to eliminating malaria. Vietnam’s malaria program, the National Institute for Malariology, Parasitology, and Entomology (NIMPE), recently completed its National Strategy for Malaria Control, Prevention and Elimination 2011-2015. With this strategic plan, Vietnam outlined its goals of controlling and reducing malaria in higher burden areas, and the implementation of a spatially progressive malaria elimination strategy in low transmission regions.
APMEN is a country-led network focused on generating and disseminating evidence-based information on what works to drive down malaria and achieve elimination in the Asia Pacific. APMEN was developed in 2009 in response to a call to action by countries in the region to tackle malaria elimination. With Vietnam as the newest addition, APMEN connects its 12 other network countries— Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vanuatu— in an effort to learn from each other’s malaria program approaches, translate research into action and consider optimal program implementation. APMEN country partners work together to sustain the gains made in malaria control and ensure financial and political support for malaria elimination in the region. Further information regarding APMEN can be viewed at www.apmen.org. More reading about eliminating malaria in Vietnam can be found through the UCSF Global Health Group’s country profiles: http://goo.gl/DPaZL