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The Comprehensive Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria and Sustainable Development

Despite longstanding efforts and significant investments, the world remains off-track for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending malaria by 2030. Malaria persists where sustainable development is slowest

Inverting the vicious cycle requires new, integrated ways of collaborating; and thinking holistically about development and comprehensive multisectoral action is essential.

Conventional malaria interventions are faced with a system challenge. In many settings, the root causes of malaria extend beyond the confines of the healthcare sector, reaching into realms such as social and economic inequities, poor housing, environmental degradation, agricultural practices, and water and waste management. Yet, the global response to malaria has traditionally centered on the health sector and vector control, often neglecting the broader determinants of the disease.

Photo: UNDP Bolivia/Miguel Samper
Man cleans a creek of debris outside his house in the town of Guayaramerín, Bolivia, where there are outbreaks of malaria, and periodic flooding brings an increase in mosquitoes. Photo: UNDP Bolivia/Miguel Samper

Using data, case studies and practical tools, the Comprehensive Multisectoral Action framework provides guidance for policymakers, programme managers and funders to adapt their approaches to addressing malaria. This framework advocates a shift from a health-sector-centric approach to a comprehensive, coordinated, and multisectoral response. It aims to harness integrated action, commitment, and expertise across key sectors to combat malaria effectively.

Pathfinding for Comprehensive Multisectoral Action

The Pathfinder Endeavour is a collaboration between UNDP, WHO, UN-Habitat, the Roll Back Malaria Multisectoral Working Group and others. It aligns directly with UNDP’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2025, emphasizing collaboration across the revitalized UN-system to achieve transformative change.

To achieve the goals of malaria elimination, improved population health, and reduced inequities concerted simultaneous actions across multiple sectors and all SDGs are necessary. This comprehensive multisectoral approach encompasses political, institutional, social, economic, environmental, climatic, and health development concerns. It recognizes that addressing these multifaceted issues calls for collaboration that transcends individual sector interests. It also promotes political, technical, and public accountability through direct and real-time engagement with citizens.

While selective multisectoral action has been common, there is no universal blueprint for holistic action. To accelerate progress towards sustainable malaria elimination, a comprehensive multisectoral view is necessary. This involves learning from real-life situations, focusing on areas and populations that are left the furthest behind, and finding new ways to collaborate around ‘co-benefits’.

5 STEPS to becoming Malaria-Smart Sustainable Elimination

The Pathfinder Endeavour provides a structured process for sustainable results on the ground in real-life situations. The onus is on local systems, governments, and communities in four initial countries with three districts in each that are among the furthest behind in malaria elimination and in achieving the SDGs. The process includes cross-learning with international peers through five steps to becoming malaria smart. The process goes through four phases over a period of two and a half years to explore, experience and document new ways of working towards sustainable results and preparing for scale up and replication. As of August 2023, the initiative has entered the pre-project phase in four countries.

Key resources

RBM Multi-Sectoral Working Group
RBM Partnership
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The Comprehensive Multisectoral Action framework - Malaria and Sustainable Development

The Comprehensive Multisectoral Action framework – Malaria and Sustainable Development
United Nations Development Programme, UN-HABITAT, RBM Partnership
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Malaria Pathfinder Endeavour
United Nations Development Programme, UN-HABITAT, RBM Partnership
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