Great achievements have been made in the fight against malaria, saving more than eight million lives and preventing over one-and-a-half billion malaria cases. However, one billion people still live at risk of this preventable and treatable disease, which costs a child’s life every two minutes.
Swiss TPH has launched a new mathematical modelling project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to support National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) in their global strategies as well as to provide direct support to countries to maximize the impact of malaria control efforts.
“Modelling can provide additional value by projecting the potential impact of malaria programmes and comparing strategy scenarios, providing a systemic framework to understand drivers of transmission and the impact of interventions and supporting with resource allocation,” said Emilie Pothin, Group Leader at Swiss TPH. “However, the development of models need to happen in close collaboration with policy makers as the process of modelling can sometimes be as valuable as the model outputs.”
Support to policy makers
In this project, the aim of mathematical modelling is to equip policy makers in malaria endemic countries with additional evidence to guide their decision-making around malaria strategies and implementation. The project is focused on three main areas:
- Developing high performing simulation models, frameworks and tools for decision-making at a country level
- Using models for programmatic needs and supporting NMCPs and partners
- Supporting local capacity building to ensure long-term sustainability of health service projects, transfer knowledge and support in the decolonization of global health
The work is based on the development and application of malaria models, with a focus on the OpenMalaria modelling platform. OpenMalaria is a decision-making tool that was by developed by Swiss TPH to simulate dynamics of malaria transmission and burden as well as assess the impact of malaria interventions.
Modelling to guide decision-making
Policymakers face many challenges in planning and implementing control interventions. In recent years, both progress toward elimination and funding has stagnated. As countries need carefully planned strategies to mobilize funding, mathematical modelling can support these efforts by providing additional evidence on where investments are most productive.
“As surveillance and data systems improve, so does the potential for quality data for monitoring and evaluation. These developments provide unprecedented opportunities to support NMCPs in their fight against malaria,” said Pothin.
Mathematical modelling to support malaria efforts
Swiss TPH has been providing in-country analytical support to the Tanzanian NMCP for the last 15 years through two projects funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. In 2016, Swiss TPH began to provide in-country modelling support to Tanzanian NMCPs and in 2018 to Benin NMCP to support with the revision of their national malaria strategic plans.
Based on the success of the modelling work in Tanzania and Benin, the framework has been adopted in other malaria-endemic countries where Swiss TPH is engaged, in particular in five of the ten High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) countries: Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon. The same framework has the potential to be applied in any country. The work was conducted by Pothin and her group at Swiss TPH, and in close collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Analytics and Intervention Modelling at Swiss TPH
The Analytics and Intervention Modelling research group at Swiss TPH contributes towards building a data-driven and evidence-based process for decision-making and advocacy tailored to National Malaria Control Programmes and partners in affected countries using infectious disease transmission models combined with health economics.