Significant progress in reducing deaths from malaria threatened by lack of funding and attention says malaria experts

Cape Town – Although Africa is still the region in the world worst affected by malaria, it has made huge gains over the past decade in reducing the number of cases – and deaths.

The World Malaria Report, released on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO), says that the total number of deaths due to malaria fell by 44 percent between 2000 and 2019, from 680,000 to 384,000.

The death rate in the African region of the WHO has been reduced by 67 percent, from 121 deaths for every 100,000 people at risk to 40. The incidence of malaria has increased by 362.8 to 225.2 cases per 1,000 members of the WHO. population at risk.

‘While the incidence of cases has decreased significantly over the past two decades,’ the WHO said, ‘there has been a small increase in the total number of malaria cases – from around 204 million in 2000 to 215 million in 2019 – which is a rapidly increasing population in the country reflects region. “

And progress in the fight against the disease has been slower over the past five years than before: ‘Since 2014 … the progress in both cases and deaths has decreased, mainly due to the cessation of progress in several countries with moderate or high transmission. . “

WHO reports that six African countries were responsible for about half of the global malaria deaths in 2019: Nigeria accounted for 23 percent of the deaths, the Democratic Republic of the Congo 11 percent, Tanzania five percent and Niger, Mozambique and Burkina Faso each. Of the 29 countries that make up 95 percent of the world’s malaria cases, 27 are in Africa.

The organization warns that a shortage of money threatens profits in the future, with funding in 2019 of three billion US dollars, at a target of $ 5.6 billion.

WHO Director – General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says in his preface to the report that Covid-19 is an additional challenge. “WHO is concerned that even moderate disruptions in access to treatment could lead to a significant loss of life.”

At the same time, although Covid-19 is a primary factor in reducing progress towards malaria eradication, measures to curb the pandemic have shown ways to strengthen health systems, including those providing malaria services. The Roll back Malaria partnership to end Malaria (RBM) – a coordinated action platform of more than 500 health groups and researchers – said in a statement on the new World Malaria report that “Covid -19 has shown the critical importance of having timely, accurate and localized data and innovation to a communicable disease “.

“The global malaria community must take the opportunity to use real-time data to inform real-time decision-making,” said Elizabeth Chizema, a board member of the RBM, former director of Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Program.

WHO calls on countries and their global partners to step up the fight against malaria. Dr Tedros adds in his foreword to the report: ‘It is time for leaders across Africa – and the world – to take up the challenge again … just as they laid the foundations for the progress made since the beginning of this century. Through joint action and the commitment to leave no one behind, we can achieve our shared vision of a world free of malaria. ”

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