Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group notes that the current generation of philanthropists wants to take a strategic approach to philanthropy in...
India Philanthropy Report 2019 highlights the ‘Field Approach’ where non-profits, corporates, government and philanthropists have successfully worked towards eradicating malaria and controlling tobacco consumption, and are presently seeking to address sectoral challenges relating to urban sanitation and adolescent empowerment. The report concludes by describing the key themes that emerge from these cases that form the principles of a field approach and calls for Indian philanthropy to take a more ambitious and holistic view towards creating impact at scale.
The following case highlights ways in which philanthropists and other stakeholders have successfully adopted a field approach. The cases are not all funded by philanthropists, but they all demonstrate how the field approach works and how philanthropists could adopt a similar ap- proach to their giving.
Conceived and established through the collaborative effort of the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and the World Bank in 1998, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partner- ship to End Malaria has more than 500 partners globally, including malaria-endemic coun- tries, foundations, corporations, academic and research institutions, and nonprofit and civil society organisations.
The problem: The environment in which RBM emerged is reflected in the alarming statistics of the World Health Report of 1999—including the occurrence of almost 300 million clinical cases of malaria worldwide each year, 1 million deaths (90% of which were in sub-Saharan Africa) and a rapid spread of resistance to antimalarial drugs.
The approach: RBM was created in response to a clear and pressing problem, with an objec- tive of promoting an effective control strategy to combat the disease.
• It set a bold target of halving instances of malaria by 2010 through its Global Malaria Action Plan, which emphasised rapid clinical case detection and treatment, use of insecti- cide-treated bed nets, management of malaria during pregnancy and focal control of malaria transmission in emergency or epidemic situations.
• RBM provided strategic coherence for disparate stakeholders around a common agenda by developing shared metrics of success, such as the delivery of bed nets and rapid diag- nostic tests and treatments. It also established diverse working groups on aspects like case management, monitoring and evaluation, procurement and supply chain manage- ment, and behaviour change communication, some of which are still operational today. Each working group coordinated the efforts of stakeholders—primarily governments and implementing organisations—within that particular focus area, served as a platform for sharing technical knowledge and best practices, and helped avoid duplication or fragmen- tation so resources were put to the best use.
• In addition to providing the overarching framework within which the 500 partners could unite their efforts, RBM focused on conducting and enabling research, building aware- ness and mobilising funds. It has launched public awareness campaigns, produced tool- kits and manuals for malaria control programmes and assisted partner implementing organisations in securing grants.
What was achieved: What began as an effort by four multilateral agencies to streamline their activities is today the backbone of cohesive, global efforts to eradicate malaria. RBM played an invaluable role in global efforts that reduced malaria deaths by more than 60% and saved 7 million lives. The outcome of its strategy has been significant—more than half of the African population today has access to a long-lasting insecticide-treated net, up from just 2% in 2001. Eight countries have been certified malaria-free since 2010, 10 more are on track to eliminate malaria by 2020 and 44 report fewer than 10,000 malaria cases.
In light of its success, RBM has redefined its objective as a malaria-free world in its Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria 2016–2030 and in the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030. These documents reflect the adoption of the ambitious malaria elimina- tion targets under the SDGs and provide joint goals and milestones, technical guidance and a framework for action and investment. Although the 2018 World Malaria Report indicates that the world is not on track to meet two critical 2020 milestones of reducing cases of malaria and death rates by at least 40% from 2015 levels, the very existence of RBM will facilitate the data collection and coordination required to course correct. New challenges lie ahead for RBM: sustain the momentum of its efforts, encourage greater funding for the issue and accelerate progress towards eliminating malaria.
Key success factors:
• Field outcomes: RBM set a clear target for global efforts to tackle malaria and clear milestones to indicate progress.
• Collaborative action: The platform was developed by four multilateral agencies and helped governments, implementing nonprofit organisations, research institutions and others share technical expertise and best practices.
• Government allies: The platform did not focus on direct implementation but provided the broad direction, framework and technical know-how for governments to act.
• Design for scale: RBM promoted simple, evidence-based interventions to prevent and control malaria, including the delivery of bed nets and rapid diagnostic tests and treatments. This model was replicated and successfully deployed in regions as disparate as Africa and South Asia.