Malaria fight stalling at ‘unacceptably high level’ of deaths

Henrietta Strickland
December 6, 2019

The World malaria report 2019 released on Wednesday by the WHO, said in 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 251 million cases in 2010 and 231 million cases in 2017.

"The burden in 2018 was similar to that of 2017 in all other countries, apart from in Uganda and India, where there were reported reductions of 1.5 and 2.6 million malaria cases, respectively, in 2018 compared with 2017".

"The world has shown that progress can be made", WHO malaria expert Pedro Alonso told reporters. "We desire to step up our action, in particular in worldwide locations hardest hit by the disease". Notably, the report shows a steep decline in cases of P. falciparum malaria, a primary target in view of the ongoing threat of antimalarial drug resistance.

The WHO's report found that pregnant women and children in Africa continue to bear the brunt of the malaria epidemic.

Globally, countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India carried nearly 85 per cent of the global malaria burden. According to the report, for 2018, total funding for malaria control and elimination was an estimated $2.7 billion, far short of the $5 billion global strategy funding target.

Global progress in reducing deaths has also slowed, with the rate of reduction of malaria mortality being slower in the 2016-2018 period than in the 2010-2015 period, and children under the age of five accounting for two thirds, or 67 percent, of global malaria deaths in 2018.

According to the World Health Organization report, six African countries; Nigeria (25 percent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 percent), Uganda (5 percent), and Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, and Niger (4 percent each) accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide.

"Joint efforts to rapidly detect and respond to importations and prevent and protect vulnerable communities along the borders is vital in our drive to achieve zero malaria and protect everyone everywhere", she said.

In contrast, the report identified several global malaria success stories, with more than half of all countries now malaria-free and another 49 countries registering less than 10,000 cases.

"While we have come a long way, sustained focus and increased funding are crucial to boost India's fight against malaria and ensure that India continues to lead the world and becomes malaria-free by 2030", said Dr Sanjeev Gaikwad, country director of Malaria No More India, a non-profit organisation.

The quantity of conditions of malaria remain at an "unacceptably excessive" stage, with barely any discount in the last three years despite an sizable global effort to form out the childhood killer, figures present. The Greater Mekong Subregion has recorded a 76% fall in malaria cases between 2010 and 2018, and deaths plummeted by 95%. This year, world leaders increased funding for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to US$14.2 billion.

Of that number of deaths in 2018, an estimated 380,000 were from Africa; 25 percent of the total cases were only from Nigeria.

Investments in malaria R&D also reached US$663 million in 2018 - its largest budget to-date since 2009.

In November, Science Magazine reported that the first malaria vaccine was rolled out in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organisations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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