Seattle, November 19, 2018 – The World Health Organization (WHO) released its annual World Malaria Report today, showing that progress against malaria has leveled off. After more than a decade of rapid declines in malaria cases and deaths – saving 7 million lives since the height of the malaria crisis in the early 2000s – malaria is creeping back in some of the highest burden areas. To get the reduction in malaria cases and deaths back on track, the WHO, RBM Partnership to End Malaria and partners are joining a new country-led response coinciding with the report’s launch.
According to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease. We recognize we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”
Malaria cases and deaths are heavily concentrated in 11 countries, primarily in Africa; together they account for approximately 70% of all malaria cases and deaths globally. Despite concerning trends in Africa, there are signs of momentum. India, the highest malaria burdened country outside of Africa, recorded a 24 percent decline in malaria cases between 2016 and 2017. Ethiopia, Rwanda and Pakistan also marked declines in cases during this timeframe.
“With innovative new approaches and a vast network of front-line health workers delivering essential malaria services in rural and remote areas – particularly in the highly malarious state of Odisha – India is leading the way with a success model that holds lessons for other high burden countries,” said Edlund.
In the face of an increase of more than a million cases in 2017, Nigeria – the highest malaria burdened country, which accounts for 25 percent of all cases worldwide – is working to secure $300 million in new financing from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and African Development Bank to close significant gaps in malaria control and prevention interventions in 13 states. The World Malaria Report states that in2017, only an estimated 47 percent of people in Nigeria have access to an insecticide-treated bed net. The loans would represent one of the largest domestic financing commitments for malaria in Nigeria’s history.
Additionally, more countries are closing in on malaria elimination. This year, Paraguay become the first country in the Americas in 45 years to eliminate malaria. Now, more than half of all malaria affected countries reported fewer than 10,000 malaria cases in 2017. Among that group, the number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases of malaria – a strong indicator that elimination is within reach – increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 26 countries in 2017.
Alongside the World Malaria Report 2018, leaders from the highest malaria burdened countries are taking action to reignite progress towards ending malaria with the launch of a “High Burden to High Impact: A Targeted Malaria Response”. The response is focused on increasing political will, improved use of data, better guidance on policies and strategies for local settings, and engaging sectors outside of health.
“Bending the curve on malaria won’t be easy,” said Martin Edlund, Malaria No More CEO, ” but after a year of renewed commitment by donor and malaria-affected countries alike, we are positioned to get back to the track to ending this disease.”
Continued support from donor countries – including the U.S. and U.K. – is critical to driving continued reductions in malaria cases and death. The United States is the single largest donor for malaria providing $1.2 billion in 2017. Through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States continues to combat malaria at its epicenter in Africa. PMI is working closely with the highest burden malaria-affected countries to address the gaps in coverage of core malaria control tools, improve supply chain operations and harness the power of data to maximize the impact of available resources.
“There has never been a better time to invest in malaria. Improvements in surveillance and reporting will help countries and partners detect and treat cases more efficiently and effectively, expanding the impact each dollar invested in malaria can have,” said Edlund.
Key World Malaria Report 2018 findings:
- In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria globally, a slight increase from 217 million cases in 2016.
- Deaths from malaria decreased from 451,000 in 2016 to 435,000 in 2017. While this represents positive progress, the rate of decline has slowed since 2015.
- The world is off track to achieve two of the three critical targets of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030, reducing malaria deaths and disease by at least 40% by 2020. The third target – elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020 – is on track and likely to be reached.
- In countries nearing elimination the pace of progress is quickening – 46 countries reported fewer than 10,000 indigenous cases in 2017, up from 37 countries in 2010.
- Funding for the global malaria response in 2017 grew slightly, but more domestic and international investment is needed to close crucial gaps in access to proven, life-saving malaria interventions
For more information or interview requests, contact Michal Fishman at +1 504-220-2792 or Michal.Fishman@MalariaNoMore.org
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. Malaria No More has offices in the United States, Cameroon, Kenya and India and affiliates in Japan and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org