Real-time data to help optimize investments are critical to build on 20 years of progress and reach the global goal of eliminating malaria within a generation
More countries across the globe, including in SE Asia and Central America, are closer to elimination than ever before
Seattle, November 30, 2020 – Malaria No More joins the global community in applauding the significant positive impact of increased global investment and commitment in the malaria fight since 2000, as detailed in the 2020 World Malaria Report released today by the World Health Organization. Despite historic progress, persistent high levels of malaria cases and deaths and the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce the urgency of accelerating efforts to end this preventable and treatable infectious disease within a generation.
Global efforts over two decades saved 7.6 million lives and prevented 1.5 billion cases of malaria, dramatically reducing the global malaria burden. During this period, 21 countries achieved zero malaria cases and countries closing in on elimination almost doubled. However, while malaria deaths were at the lowest level ever at the end of last year, progress has been uneven over the past four years. In 2019, 409,000 people died from malaria and 229 million malaria cases, continuing to take their toll on lives and country health systems and economies. In this same period, the population in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for over 90 percent of the global malaria burden, increased from 665 million to over 1 billion.
“This year, heroic efforts saved hundreds of thousands of lives and defended huge global gains made against malaria since the year 2000. But today, every death from malaria is avoidable,” said Martin Edlund, CEO, Malaria No More. “Thanks to two decades of investment in the malaria fight, countries are better positioned to respond to emerging health threats like COVID-19. We must now accelerate malaria progress and defeat pandemics by leveraging the vital programs, partnerships, expertise and capacities of the malaria campaign,” he continued.
Malaria-affected countries, with support from global partners, responded to WHO’s call to action earlier this year to quickly and safely continue malaria programming and prevention campaigns in the face of COVID-19 to avoid a worst-case scenario doubling of malaria deaths. In 28 countries, including many of the highest burden countries, more than 90 percent of planned net distribution campaigns occurred across the world. Countries are on track to deliver a total of 200 million mosquito nets by the end of the year and over 20 million children were reached with seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Eliminating countries, including El Salvador, kept on track with malaria programs and surveillance, maintaining a third year of zero malaria cases on the road to malaria-free certification in 2021.
COVID-19 has reinforced the vital role that timely, accurate and geolocated data and innovation plays in effectively fighting an infectious disease. As countries continue to fight malaria and COVID – which share seven of 10 primary systems – using real-time data will help innovate and adapt their approaches and optimize the impact of limited resources. Furthering reductions in malaria cases helps countries be better positioned to deal with COVID and other future health threats.
Continued U.S. leadership and increased funding are critical to end malaria
The U.S. continued to be the largest government funder of the global malaria fight, providing more than one third of total global funding in 2019 for control and elimination efforts. Ongoing investments are made through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund), the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and research and development through numerous government agencies.
U.S. bipartisan support over the past two decades has steadily increased U.S. investments in the malaria fight, with evidence that these investments consistently deliver impressive returns and contribute to global health security generally. PMI and Global Fund investments have been instrumental in protecting more than 570 million people and building resilient health systems that are being used to respond to the pandemic. This includes training tens of thousands of health workers; increasing access to life-saving drugs and rapid diagnostics; strengthening supply chain for medicines and medical equipment; building data systems to improve real-time surveillance of infectious diseases and fevers; and, building in-country lab capacity.
Congress pledged $1.56 billion in annual funding to the Global Fund for its 2020-2022 cycle, and in FY20, approved an additional $15 million to PMI to invest in more effective next generation insecticide treated bed nets and greater use of technology, for a total of $770 million. In their FY21 Legislation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has again increased this amount, due to PMI’s effectiveness, for a total of $785 million. Malaria No More calls on House and Senate appropriators to fully fund the Global Fund and support this critical increase for PMI in the Final FY21 Omnibus Appropriations legislation currently being negotiated.
In addition to the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan were lead contributors and governments of malaria-endemic countries, contributed about 31% of malaria funding, with investments of approximately US$ 900 million in 2019. Despite significant increases in global funding for the malaria fight since 2000, funding for the global malaria response has plateaued in recent years. In 2019, global spending on malaria programs rose from $2.7 billion in 2018 to $3 billion, but still fell well short of the total amount the WHO estimates is needed to reach all those at risk with the life-saving malaria tools they need.
Southeast Asia countries make significant progress, other countries closing in on zero malaria
Countries in South-East Asia made particularly strong progress since 2000, with reductions in cases and deaths of 69% and 70%, respectively. Sri Lanka was certified malaria free in 2015, and Timor-Leste reported zero malaria cases in 2018 and 2019.
Building on year-over-year success, countries in the Greater Mekong subregion, including Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, reduced malaria cases by 90 percent since 2000, despite facing growing drug resistance.
India contributed to the largest drop in cases region-wide, from approximately 20 million cases in 2000 to about six million in 2019. India’s progress accelerated in the last three years, with significant reductions in cases and deaths due to increased funding by the government to scale up access to life-saving malaria interventions. Still, India, which is the only country outside of Africa among the 11 highest burden malaria countries, accounted for 88% of malaria cases and 86% of malaria deaths in this region in 2019.
“India has come a long way in bolstering its fight against malaria and it shows with its year-on-year reduction in malaria cases and deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic adding to the healthcare burden reminds us the importance of ending malaria and enabling countries to turn their attention to other diseases and emerging threats,” Dr. Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria No More India. Malaria No More India is working in support of the government’s goal of malaria elimination by 2030.
In the last five years, 10 countries reached or are on track to maintain zero malaria cases, showing that ending this disease is achievable. This includes Algeria, Argentina, Paraguay and Uzbekistan, which were certified malaria-free in the last three years. El Salvador and China, which kept malaria at bay despite COVID-19, each registered a third consecutive year of zero malaria cases and are moving toward malaria-free certification in 2021.
For more information or interview requests, contact Taylor Prochnow at +1 206-605-9040 or email@example.com.
About Malaria No More
Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. More than a decade into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org.