KASAMA Residents marching during the commemoration of World Malaria Day along Timothy Chisanga Chinunda road in Kasama

Global response to malaria at crossroads

WHO report shows gains are levelling

News release

After unprecedented global success in malaria control, progress has stalled, according to the World malaria report 2017. There were an estimated 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015. Malaria deaths stood at around 445 000, a similar number to the previous year.

“In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond.”

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for reductions of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the year 2020. According to WHO’s latest malaria report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones.

A major problem is insufficient funding at both domestic and international levels, resulting in major gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines, and other life-saving tools.

Funding shortage

An estimated US$ 2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally in 2016. That is well below the US $6.5 billion annual investment required by 2020 to meet the 2030 targets of the WHO global malaria strategy.

In 2016, governments of endemic countries provided US$ 800 million, representing 31% of total funding. The United States of America was the largest international funder of malaria control programmes in 2016, providing US$1 billion (38% of all malaria funding), followed by other major donors, including the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Germany and Japan.

The global figures

The report shows that, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, up from 211 million cases in 2015. The estimated global tally of malaria deaths reached 445 000 in 2016 compared to 446 000 the previous year.

While the rate of new cases of malaria had fallen overall, since 2014 the trend has levelled off and even reversed in some regions. Malaria mortality rates followed a similar pattern.

The African Region continues to bear an estimated 90% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide. Fifteen countries – all but one in sub-Saharan Africa – carry 80% of the global malaria burden.

“Clearly, if we are to get the global malaria response back on track, supporting the most heavily affected countries in the African Region must be the primary focus,” said Dr Tedros.

Controlling malaria

In most malaria-affected countries, sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet (ITN) is the most common and most effective way to prevent infection. In 2016, an estimated 54% of people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa slept under an ITN compared to 30% in 2010. However, the rate of increase in ITN coverage has slowed since 2014, the report finds.

Spraying the inside walls of homes with insecticides is another effective way to prevent malaria. The report reveals a steep drop in the number of people protected from malaria by this method – from an estimated 180 million in 2010 to 100 million in 2016 – with the largest reductions seen in the African Region.

The African Region has seen a major increase in diagnostic testing in the public health sector: from 36% of suspected cases in 2010 to 87% in 2016. A majority of patients (70%) who sought treatment for malaria in the public health sector received artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) – the most effective antimalarial medicines.

However, in many areas, access to the public health system remains low. National-level surveys in the African Region show that only about one third (34%) of children with a fever are taken to a medical provider in the public health sector.

Tackling malaria in complex settings

The report also outlines additional challenges in the global malaria response, including the risks posed by conflict and crises in malaria endemic zones. WHO is currently supporting malaria responses in Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen, where ongoing humanitarian crises pose serious health risks. In Nigeria’s Borno State, for example, WHO supported the launch of a mass antimalarial drug administration campaign this year that reached an estimated 1.2 million children aged under 5 years in targeted areas. Early results point to a reduction in malaria cases and deaths in this state.

A wake-up call

“We are at a crossroads in the response to malaria,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the Global Malaria Programme, commenting on the findings of this year’s report. “We hope this report serves as a wake-up call for the global health community. Meeting the global malaria targets will only be possible through greater investment and expanded coverage of core tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria. Robust financing for the research and development of new tools is equally critical.”

[World Health Organisation]

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8 COMMENTS

  1. It is sad that we entirely depend on the international community to fund all our projects while we have so many resources at our disposal. Almost everyone now know know what causes malaria and how to prevent it. In this era this should have been a case of the past. But our priorities are always misplaced. I doubt that we will ever kick out Malaria with this dependency syndrome on the international community. No matter how much funds are directed to fight Malaria, the goal will never be achieved because the mentality towards the goals are misplaced.

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  2. Zambians should wake up and use the mozzie nets that they get for free instead of using them for fishing . this would stop a huge amount of cases.

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  3. @the observer, sad isn’t the first word/phrase that pops into my mind. Ignorance, greed, hate, lack of heart for one another, lack of foresight, negligence, all these phrases come before sad for me . And its clear as day why, without giving a history lesson, I will simply say we have been and continue to be conditioned to think less and less in zed. Like many nations we believe every thing we see on TV and read in the paper. So we see and hear that we are okay and start to believe it. FACT is there is barely any work being done towards changing this, most of sub Saharan Africa was excluded completely from the malaria eradication campaign. The emergence of drug resistance, widespread resistance to available insecticides, wars, massive population movements, difficulties obtaining sustained…

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  4. sustained funding from donor countries, and lack of community participation made the long-term maintenance of the effort untenable. A control and containment strategy has long replaced the eradication campaign. In lay mans terms, it generates more money to sell control and contamination medicines than run an eradication program.
    My point being you can see how little effort is being put into this on all levels within zed.
    Ignorance -A regular middle class Zambian isn’t disgusted by such a post but is disgusted when they see PF AND UPND none sense. They vent their anger and frustration on these Lusaka times pages with all their might. When in all honesty , UPND, PF , MMD are the same guys , check the last names over the years.

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  5. lack of heart for one another -Upper class Zambians don’t bother at all because they believe as long as they buy their mosquito nets , peaceful sleep and K100 co-arinate tablets they are fine. Forgetting that their kids are lacking the juice to continue acquiring the wealth they have acquired.
    greed / hate – Our policy makers are too busy stuffing their pockets with left over crumbs from the world that they think those are riches in order to send their kids to the ZCASes and community collages in the UK and forget to realize they are burying us even deeper into corruption , ignorance and suffering.

    We have recourses and without proper game plans for our children and grand children, the recourses are worth nothing.

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  6. We here reduction, reduction, reduction. Another FACT is in ZED the malaria incidence as of 2016 is about 400 cases per 1000 people. That is insane, how do we not have people screaming out from every house for change.
    SADC has about 270 million people, and a combined GDP of $600 million with most of the SADC region having 60%-70% incidence rate (with exception of South Africa , Lesotho , Namibia).
    lack of foresight – China eradicated malaria for the most part from 1949-1990, before it had about 30 million annual cases . In 1990 they had numbers down to 117,000 malaria cases annually. China in the 50s had a GDP of about $30 billion and a population of 500 million.
    So if that is doable then us eradicating it is just as doable coz they did it with little to no help, its that black and…

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  7. white and that’s the spirit our law makers need to carry forward next time they are going to auction of those resources. We already lost our chance to gonzenena onto China as they shot to the top over the last 20 years despite out great relations so lets wake up and make changes so that hopefully our grand kids can have a malaria free Zambia to live in.

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  8. We are losing the fight against HIV. We are losing the fight against cholera. We are losing the fight against everything

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