Malaria as a pathfinder for pandemic preparedness and response

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in awareness and political will for addressing health crises. In response, the global community is working to implement best practices and strengthen health systems to be prepared for the next disease outbreak, as well as address existing health threats including malaria, HIV and neglected tropical diseases.

Using malaria as a pathfinder for pandemic preparedness and response

Malaria is uniquely positioned to serve as a pathfinder for pandemic preparedness and response. Through investments in malaria prevention, testing and treatment, countries and development partners have an opportunity to:

  • expand community health worker programmes
  • enhance digital tools for disease surveillance and detection
  • increase the capacity of national laboratories
  • improve supply chains and logistics for health commodities
  • implement standard operating procedures to respond to outbreaks in real-time

Malaria can also be a platform for developing models for tracking and modelling how diseases move through various communities.

The role of community health workers

Community health workers are also uniquely positioned to strengthen both the fight against malaria and pandemic preparedness and response. Having a robust and well-trained network of community health workers reduces the burden on health facilities by triaging cases.

Community health workers reduce significant barriers to accessing health care services by bringing testing, treatment, and behavioural change education for several health issues directly into communities.

As trained and trusted community members, community health workers are well-positioned to sustain health services.