Dubai, November 30, 2023 – Malaria No More CEO Martin Edlund issued the following statement upon the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2023 World Malaria Report:
We face a perfect storm of challenges to sustaining malaria progress, including actual storms and floods. Growing drug and insecticide resistance, novel mosquito species, competition for global resources, and mounting climate pressures all threaten to undo twenty years of historic gains against malaria.
As the impacts of climate change on malaria become increasingly pronounced, it is fitting that the World Health Organization (WHO) released the 2023 World Malaria Report at the start of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Ahead of the first ever Health Day at COP28 in Dubai, we join the global health community in sounding the alarm on the expanding climate-driven health crisis.
Global warming is creating dramatic new pressures on malaria: changing rainfall patterns, lengthening rainy seasons, increasingly frequency and ferocious extreme weather events, and warming temperatures that bring the disease to new latitudes and altitudes. These challenges were vividly demonstrated by the flooding in Pakistan last year, which caused a 350% increase in malaria cases in some affected areas.
Overall, the report shows that while global malaria deaths have continued to decline since the height of the COVID pandemic (to 608 thousand in 2022), the overall number of malaria cases remains stubbornly persistent at nearly 250 million new infections last year.
Despite the challenges, we are encouraged that global investment in the malaria response rose significantly from $3.5 billion in 2021 to $4.1 billion in 2022, and that three countries were certified malaria free in the past year alone.
The pipeline of innovations to combat malaria has never been stronger. It’s bursting with promising new therapies, vaccine candidates, monoclonal antibodies, and novel mosquito technologies that could drastically reduce – or even eliminate – the risks introduced by climate change. We’re also seeing real advances in data-driven early warning systems that can predict and prevent potential outbreaks before they happen.
If we move fast, we can address malaria before climate change makes it far worse. But only if we continue to innovate and invest.