The scourge of malaria could be curbed more rapidly in developing countries if governments and other partners adopted a series of measures to enhance program management, as outlined in a new paper by the University of California San Francisco, led by the University of Exeter's Professor of Leadership, Jonathan Gosling.
The paper, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says that targeted efforts to improve program management could play a key role in advancing progress towards eradicating a disease that is a risk to 3.4 billion people each year – half the world's population.
In this unique review, a group of academics has analysed the different requirements of successful malaria management programmes, specifically looking at the differences between management requirements for high-level malaria control, and those necessary to eliminate the disease, and have come up with a list of key recommendations.
Lead author Prof Jonathan Gosling said: "Approaching malaria elimination with 'business as usual' attitudes and expectations is untenable. Malaria elimination is a long-term, focused and technical process that requires effective management and communication at all levels.
"The analysis and recommendations we have provided present a way to improve effectiveness of efforts to eliminate malaria. We are confident that both our short-term and long-term proposals are actionable and, if implemented, would lead to significant improvements to elimination management practice. The investment options we describe have the potential to achieve widespread results at country and regional levels which, cumulatively, could have a global impact on progress toward malaria elimination and eradication."
The report focuses on a number of barriers or 'roadblocks' to elimination which include red tape, lack of resources, inadequate training and the scaling back of funding as the number of malaria cases drops – making it impossible to eradicate it entirely.
It then goes on to make a series of practical recommendations, where targeted investment could have a significant impact. These include:
- Leadership and management development
- Improvements to incentive schemes
- Better accountability
- Capacity building workshops
Prof Gosling concludes: "The fight against malaria is far from won, but our report identifies that both medicine and management have a role to play in the goal of eradication."
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The complete paper is availavle online: globalhealthsciences.ucsf.edu/sites/default/files/content/ghg/mei-program-management-issues.pdf