Pedro Alonso, new director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.
Julio García. Madrid
Malaria claims more than a million lives a year. The Global Malaria Programme of the World Health Organization works to prevent and eradicate this illness. As of next October, this body will be led by the Spanish Pedro Alonso, director of the Global Health Institute of Barcelona (ISGlobal in its Spanish acronym) and head of service for the Teaching Hospital of International Health and Tropical Medicine.
The Spanish expert, who was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award to the International Cooperation (2008), has been part of the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee since 2011 and he is the director of the Scientific Committee of the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, which is still being elaborated.
Alonso started his career on international health more than 25 years ago and his works have focused on the development of new tools for the prevention and the treatment of malaria. Lately, he has been focusing on the elaboration of a vaccine against this illness, the RTS,S.
Alonso says that it is an honour to lead this WHO programme
“The appointment by Doctor Margaret Chan to be in charge of this WHO Global Malaria Programme is an honour. With the support by numerous institutions and the leadership of endemic countries, I am convinced that this world can firmly advance towards the eradication of malaria. Participating in this enterprise is a unique opportunity, so I feel very thankful”, Alonso affirmed after knowing his appointment.
Previously, in 1996 and with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID in its Spanish acronym), Alonso set in motion the Health Research Centre of Manhiça (CISM in its Spanish acronym) in Mozambique, which has become one of the main examples of success for the Spanish cooperation in health in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The contributions of the CISM in health research in poor countries have a global impact, such as the case of the vaccine for malaria.
Last April, the WHO presented a manual on how to act to eradicate malaria applying strategies that have produced excellent results in many countries and that have allowed saving the life of 3.3 million people since the year 2000. Since then, mortality caused by malaria has been reduced by 42% in the world and by 49% in Africa, the continent where it has the highest impact.