In light of the 2030 regional malaria elimination goal, there is an urgency for Asia-Pacific countries to accelerate progress towards national elimination and prevent re-establishment. The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) Surveillance Response Working Group (SRWG) supports elimination goals of national malaria control programmes (NMCPs) by expanding the knowledge base, guiding the region-specific operational research agenda and addressing evidence gaps to improve surveillance and response activities.
An online annual meeting was hosted from 1–3 November 2021, to reflect on research needed to support malaria elimination in the region, challenges with malaria data quality and integration, current surveillance-related technical tools, and training needs of NMCPs to support surveillance and response activities. Facilitator-led breakout groups were held during meeting sessions to encourage discussion and share experience. A list of identified research priorities was voted on by attendees and non-attending NMCP APMEN contacts.
127 participants from 13 country partners and 44 partner institutions attended the meeting, identifying strategies to address malaria transmission amongst mobile and migrant populations as the top research priority, followed by cost effective surveillance strategies in low resource settings, and integration of malaria surveillance into broader health systems. Key challenges, solutions and best practices for improving data quality and integrating epidemiology and entomology data were identified, including technical solutions to improve surveillance activities, guiding priority themes for hosting informative webinars, training workshops and technical support initiatives. Inter-regional partnerships and SRWG-led training plans were developed in consultation with members to be launched from 2022 onwards.
The 2021 SRWG annual meeting provided an opportunity for regional stakeholders, both NMCPs and APMEN partner institutions, to highlight remaining challenges and barriers and identify research priorities pertaining to surveillance and response in the region, and advocate for strengthening capacity through training and supportive partnerships.