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Joseph Lewinski

Multisectoral Malaria Project Lead, Catholic Relief Services

Malaria does not exist in isolation and will require a cross-sector response through coordination, policy and funding at global and national level to ensure a malaria-free future for all.

This cross-sector response to malaria is called multisectoral programming. It uses different sectors to help bridge funding gaps in malaria programming, increasing access and use of malaria services in communities that are often missed.

By working with the education sector, you get more consistent access to children, who are more likely to be impacted by malaria.

Joseph Lewinski, Multisectoral Malaria Project Lead at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), explains: “I don’t think we have seen a country that has eliminated malaria without a multisectoral approach.”

Sectors driving the biggest impact include agriculture, education, humanitarian response, urban development, extractive industries, population movement and defense. CRS is investing in multisectoral programming to help ensure these critical connections are made, especially in countries with the highest number of malaria cases.

“This concept, which has existed since the first malaria elimination efforts, believes that including other sectors in programming, we can address common causes that increase the spread malaria in endemic countries and develop proactive malaria policy.” Lewinski says.

Dual impact approach

Multisectoral approaches can have a positive impact on both malaria prevalence and on the other sectors involved.

“By working with the education sector, you can train teachers to identify signs and symptoms and strengthen referral system so children can get diagnosed and treated quicker.” Lewinski explains. “At the same time, we can reduce school absenteeism due to malaria infections.”

“In rice farming agriculture, increased production can impact mosquito breeding and, thus, malaria transmission. A multisectoral approach can provide dual impact, in this case, ensuring productive agriculture production and also in reducing malaria prevalence. National malaria control programmes, agriculture stakeholders, farmers and communities must be considered in the decision-making process and proactive policy must be adopted.”

Working towards elimination

In some circumstances, multisectoral programming can help countries meet their malaria elimination goals.

“Multisectoral programs are being used to help reach the last few cases within countries close to elimination,” Lewinski explains. “In the Mekong sub-region, we see that by working with extractive industries we can monitor forest working populations to help find those last cases.

“This isn’t just an approach for countries eliminating malaria. By setting up these systems in high burden countries, we can ensure this integrated response is adopted to help countries meet pre-elimination targets. It requires upfront investment, and bringing together stakeholders who wouldn’t normally work together, to create practical and novel solutions.”

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