Summary of publication
This publication reviews progress of the four-year (2007-2011) Pacific (Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) Malaria Initiative and recommends how to improve program performance and how to provide possible future Australian support.
There is solid evidence of a steady decline in malaria rates in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands since 2003, although too early to directly attribute this to the malaria initiative. Positive outcomes included: Australian resources bridged a short-term gap in Global Fund resources and kept the program running; the national governments gave high priority to malaria, and this helped the initiative's successes; partners cooperated effectively, especially through the Malaria Steering Committees, guided by the Malaria Reference Group. Two major problems were: absence of a document explaining what the program planned to achieve and how success would be measured; and the malaria program focussed national health ministry attention and resources on a single disease, at the expense of broader health system improvements (although some malaria program resources have been shared in the malaria elimination provinces). Recommended: continued AusAID support to the malaria programs in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands beyond 2011, through two bilateral programs, with a design to follow mid-term reviews and revisions of the five-year Malaria Action Plans; managing the malaria program through broader health sector policy and delivery, including financing through the health budget; extending the timeframe to eliminate malaria nationally (10-20 years) so different strains could be effectively managed without creating other health risks; increased attention to quality support at health facility through national levels; increased country ownership of technical assistance and research; and a more practical orientation in research, monitoring and evaluation.