July 28th, 2020 – The “M2030xCOVID19 Private Sector Roundtable” brought together leaders from leading Asian businesses and foundations in a webinar format to discuss how the private sector is contributing to malaria elimination and the fight against COVID-19. Held in partnership with the Asia Pacific Malaria Leaders Alliance and the World Economic Forum, the panel of speakers featured M2030 Champions in addition to guest messages from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund.
The M2030 Champions Council was formed by M2030 in April 2019 together with the World Economic Forum and APLMA. Consisting of CEOs, founders and Executive Directors from the private and public sector, members drive corporate leadership to end malaria within their sphere of influence. During the “M2030xCOVID19 Private Sector Roundtable”, the M2030 Champions shared what their businesses and foundations have been doing to eliminate malaria while also responding to COVID-19.
Three main points from the discussion could be summarized as:
- We must not lose focus on malaria. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is understandably everyone’s priority, but we can’t lose focus on eliminating other deadly diseases like malaria. We are so close to eliminating malaria in Asia, but could easily lose this progress if we don’t keep up the fight.
- Investing in public health helps both malaria elimination and COVID-19 response. Eliminating malaria and fighting COVID-19 require similar approaches in many ways, and investments in strong health systems will help us fight both diseases.
- The private sector has an important role in solving public health problems like malaria and COVID-19. Solving complex problems like malaria and COVID-19 requires help from all sectors, including governments, civil society, and the private sector. This is why leadership from the M2030 Champions Council and M2030 businesses is so important.
A video message played during the event from Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and is available here.
A short clip summarizing Yoma Strategic Holdings’ M2030 campaigns for malaria elimination and COVID-19 also played during the event, and can be viewed here.
Key quotes from the discussion:
Ruby Shang, Board Member for the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance and M2030:
“Just in the last 8 years, malaria cases in Asia have dropped by 50% and mortality rates by 80%. This is unprecedented. This means we have better trained healthcare workers and more efficient health systems in place to identify and treat malaria. Never before have we been this close, and never before have the stakes been higher.”
Jennifer Gardy, Deputy Director of Surveillance, Data, and Epidemiology of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
“Gains in malaria have been precious, but those gains are also precarious. The slightest lapse in our resolve, the smallest stutter in our response, could reverse decades of hard-won progress.”
Yuliana, Chief Executive Officer of the Tahir Foundation:
“We are honored to work together with civil society and the government to improve healthcare in particular. This is not only a government responsibility, but ours too from the private sector. We also encourage more businesses in the private sector to contribute and get involved more actively, not only locally but globally if possible.”
Melvyn Pun, CEO & Executive Director of Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd.:
“In developing countries, businesses have a disproportionate role in driving various initiatives and various business practices. Businesses do not just serve customers, staff and shareholders – they serve communities. [When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived] We started to think about what we can do for broader communities. It’s not just a nice thing to do, but it is actually essential.”
Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria:
“We could see malaria deaths double over the next 12 months due to disruption to vector control, testing and treatment, and case management [because of the COVID-19 pandemic]. Doubling malaria cases would take us back to a global death toll we haven’t seen for 20 years. We cannot let that happen.”
“This is a crisis that could set back the fight against malaria many years, or if we rise to the challenge and act together, it could be an opportunity for us to redouble and accelerate the progress we are making.”
Win Win Tint, Group CEO of City Holdings Ltd.:
“Previously, most businesses focused [corporate social responsibility] on climate change and environmental impact, and underestimated the impact of a global health crisis. COVID has made everyone realize how important [investment in public health] is. COVID is more than just a health crisis, and also has social and economic impacts.”
Dr. Wit Soontaranun, Director of Dhanin Tawee Chearavanont Foundation:
“Wearing masks is now common in Thailand. It is not about protecting yourself, but about protecting others. This is the sort of mindset we would like people in society to have about fighting any disease – not just COVID, but malaria or any other disease.”
Patrik Silborn, Head of External Relations, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance:
“To fight malaria and end COVID-19, we need all hands on deck. We need governments. We need businesses. We need individuals. We need civil society. That’s why this leadership from the M2030 businesses is so important. It’s really heartening to see that M2030 businesses are now focusing on both malaria and COVID-19. It’s not a choice of either-or, it’s doing both.”