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Malaria and migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Edited by: Deyer Gopinath (gopinathd@who.int), Zai-Xing Zhang (zhangz@who.int), Xiao-Nong Zhou (zhouxn1@chinacdc.cn )

With a rapidly growing population that is becoming increasingly mobile, the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is facing multitudinous challenges in the control of communicable diseases both within and across its borders. Indeed, the number of people from the East Asia and Pacific region living outside their countries of origin has increased by nearly 60% over the past 14 years (2000–2013), and, owing to the wide disparities in incomes across countries in the region, intraregional people mobility is even higher. Population mobility is a serious challenge to malaria elimination in the GMS requiring an inter-sectoral approach. The geographic expansion of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin derivatives in GMS is an urgent public health concern, which has caused global concerns. The major risk for malaria transmission interruption in GMS is that surveillance as an intervention to block the malaria transmission is difficult to target the migrated population across-board.

The emergence of artemisinin resistance in the GMS will have catastrophic consequences if the problem is not contained and eliminated. World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Plan for Artemisinin Resistance Containment (GPARC) and the Framework for Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance (ERAR). The WHO ERAR has a distinct objective to address issues on mobile and migrant populations. The WHO ERAR project has completed a review of the current malaria situation across the GMS and within each of the six GMS countries from the perspective of migration. It considers the unique situation of each country and the common challenges to the region. Current responses and gaps to block transmission of malaria in GMS are identified and recommendations for future actions are clearly outlined. Therefore, this special issue is focus on the malaria transmission patterns in each country of GMS as well as the relationship between malaria transmission and population migration. 

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