Congress Founder and Co-Chair Professor Brendan Crabb AC.
“There was no precedence, no historical formula or traditional society-like backing for this meeting. So everyone involved in bringing about this meeting, both individuals and organisations, had to not just share the vision but take bit of a leap of faith.” – Founder and Co-Chair of the 1st Malaria World Congress (MWC2018), Professor Brendan Crabb AC.
More than 1000 delegates from 69 countries have arrived in Melbourne, Australia to share in a vision for action, for unity and for impact, in the fight against malaria, a preventable disease that inflicts more than 216 million people around the globe.
At tonight’s official opening at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Professor Crabb, the Director and CEO of Burnet Institute, said one of the driving forces behind MWC2018 was to unite a fragmented malaria sector that together could achieve greater impact in their quest to eliminate malaria.
“There has been remarkable gains in the past decade with millions of lives saved as a result of deliberate global efforts but there is clearly still a mountain to climb,” Professor Crabb said.
“The malaria community is already passionately and tirelessly committed to the cause. Rather, there seems to be a common recognition globally of the need to be vastly more creative, to find “out of the box” solutions to the myriad of challenges that we face.
“Finding innovative solutions at all levels, not just in tool development but equally in many other areas including financing, affected community engagement and the implementation of existing tools.
“We have brought together people from four different sectors of the malaria response - the affected communities, the implementers, the policy makers, and the scientists.”
Professor Crabb also thanked the Federal and Victorian governments for their support along with the MWC2018 Co-Chairs, Associate Professor Helen Evans AO and Professor Alan Cowman, as well as all members of the Local Organising Committee, Program Organising Committee, and the International Advisory Board.
Image: Ms Ida Savadogo from Burkina Faso.
Crucial to the success of MWC2018 is the engagement of the affected communities, those who are impacted by this devastating disease. Ms Ida Savadogo from Burkina Faso, a civil society organisation, inspired delegates with her call to action.
“It is political will and action that matters in the end. It matters to people like me who have suffered from malaria and our communities. Whatever we commit to (here) matters,” Ms Savadogo said.
“Let us all make this congress matter.”
Image: Key speakers, the Hon John Brumby AO, Ms Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, and Ms Ida Savadogo celebrate the opening of MWC2018 with Congress Co-Chairs, Professor Alan Cowman, Associate Professor Helen Evans AO and Professor Brendan Crabb AC.
Board Chair of RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Ms Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho said efforts against malaria since the beginning of this century had saved seven million lives.
“We need to save those who have always been last, first,” she said.
“Implementing countries need to have ownership of their response, but they need support in their malaria responses and capacity building.
“We are fully committed to working alongside everyone in order to be a more inclusive and effective group and make change happen.
“If we take our ‘foot off the pedal’ malaria comes back with a vengeance.”
Director-General of the World Health Organization, Mr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a heartfelt speech via video to the delegation.
“We are at the crossroads in the fight against malaria. At a summit in April where Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was present we highlighted the need to greater support African countries in this fight,” he said.
“Effective medicines, insecticides and new tools are essential. After spending many years fighting malaria I know we are up against a formidable adversary but we can beat it – once and for all.”
Burnet Institute also launched its #UniteAgainstMalaria campaign on the opening night of the Congress. Delegates showed their support to eliminate malaria at Burnet’s pledge wall in the Global Village.
A global cultural atmosphere resonated throughout the Global Village on the opening night with dancers from many countries in the Asia-Pacific region performing.
Follow all the news at MWC2018 on Burnet’s website, social media channels and the Congress website.