Europe has become the first region in the world to eliminate malaria, a disease that still affects half the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). No new cases of malaria were reported last year in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, the regions that comprise WHO’s European region.
“On the eve of World Malaria Day, this announcement creates more momentum as we work towards one day eliminating this deadly disease,” said Malaria No More’s Josh Blumenfeld, Managing Director of Policy and Advocacy. “This announcement is the direct result of steadfast political commitment. In his State of the Union address this past January, President Obama challenged the world to end malaria in our lifetimes and committed to increasing funding to achieve this goal. With continued U.S. leadership and global focus, we can ensure that we live in a world where no child dies from a mosquito bite.”
In Africa and Southeast Asia, malaria remains a major cause of illness and death. Approximately 214 million people contracted malaria in 2015, and those cases resulted in 438,000 deaths. In 2015, 97 percent of malaria deaths occurred in these two regions.
However, significant progress has been made in recent years. With the help of increased funding from international organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, there has been a 60 percent reduction in the rate of deaths from malaria since 2000, and 6.2 million lives have been saved.
Political leaders in the United States continue to support these gains. At last night’s World Malaria Day Reception in Washington, DC, members of Congress from both parties spoke of the need for sustained political commitment.
“We are all focused and united in our goal to one day eradicate this disease,” said Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) affirmed Congress’ bipartisan commitment to the cause, noting that “what we’ve done to save lives is done on a bipartisan basis.”
Last night’s reception was one of many activities being held in anticipation of World Malaria Day on April 25. The theme for 2016’s World Malaria Day is “End Malaria for Good.”
Photo: Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) at Malaria No More’s World Malaria Day event on Capitol Hill