In 1999, the Roll Back Malaria Initiative was launched in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. All countries in the Region committed themselves to the objectives of the initiative and updated their national strategies for malaria control and elimination accordingly. The first regional strategic plan for Roll Back Malaria, 2003–2006, was developed in 2002. The objectives of this plan were to: halve the malaria burden in countries with a severe malaria problem; decrease malaria morbidity and mortality so that it was no longer a public health problem in countries with low to moderate endemicity; eliminate malaria in countries where malaria transmission had been interrupted or had only a few residual foci; and prevent reintroduction of malaria in malaria-free countries. The Regional Strategy was updated in 2005 for the period of 2006–2010.
By 2012, the objectives of the regional strategy had been reached in many countries of the Region. The United Arab Emirates and Morocco were certified as malaria-free, and the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq were reporting no local transmission. There was a significant reduction in the malaria burden in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Significant reduction of morbidity was also being recorded in several high-burden countries, such as Afghanistan and certain areas in Sudan and Yemen.
The strategic plan for malaria control and elimination in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region 2011–2015 was developed taking into consideration resolution EM/RC55/R.9 and global resolutions pertaining to malaria control and elimination, the changes in malaria epidemiology in the Region, the available financial opportunities from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other partners. The goal, objectives and targets of the regional strategic plan are fully in line with other internationally agreed upon goals, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.