Seattle, April 24, 2019 - Recognizing the actions that saved 7 millions lives and prevented more than 1 billion malaria cases since 2000, World Malaria Day, April 25, is the day to applaud major progress and step up the fight to save millions more.
“Remarkable leadership, innovation, and investments have made possible the progress-to-date in the global fight to reduce suffering and deaths from malaria, and will be even more critical as we work to end the disease,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More. “Enduring commitments – along with a pipeline of groundbreaking new tools, bold new strategies, and increasing efficiencies – will enable us to end this disease in a way that can serve as a model for eradicating other diseases.”
According to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2018 (WMR), more countries than ever are closer to eliminating malaria, with 46 countries reporting fewer than 10,000 malaria cases. Last year, Paraguay and Uzbekistan were certified malaria-free, and Algeria and Argentina are expected to follow this year. A diverse set of additional countries are on track to eliminate by 2020, among them China and El Salvador reported zero cases for the first time in 2017. Malaria cases also declined by 43% in the Greater Mekong Subregion since 2014. Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda also made big gains against malaria.
However, malaria cases are on the rise in many of the highest burden countries for the first time in over a decade, signaling the need to intensify efforts, increase funding to accelerate the development and delivery of existing and new life-saving tools, and identify greater efficiencies through increased and more strategic use of data.
Countries, including the U.S., must increase investments against malaria
As the leading international source of global malaria funding, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provides almost 60% of total global funding to target malaria each year. This October, the Global Fund seeks to raise at least US$14 billion in funding for 2020-2022 to help save 16 million lives from all three diseases. Achieving this target is critical to ensure continued progress in the malaria fight.
“Fighting malaria is one of the United States’ most cost-effective investments to achieve the goal of ending preventable mother and child deaths and alleviating extreme poverty,” said Josh Blumenfeld, Managing Director for Global Policy and Advocacy, Malaria No More. “U.S. leadership drove significant gains against the disease, and we’re calling on Congress to expand funding and support for the Global Fund’s and President Malaria Initiative’s life-saving and transformative work.”
A new report by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, to be released May 7, will confirm PMI’s impact protecting over 570 million people annually in 27 countries in Africa and the Greater Mekong Subregion. Earlier this year, the Global Fund reported its malaria-related grants provided and helped to distribute 197 million mosquito nets, test 213 million suspected malaria cases and treat 108 million malaria cases in countries burdened by the disease in 2017.
India’s progress drives global fight
According to the WMR, India registered a 24% decrease in malaria cases between 2016 and 2017, which made India the only country among the 11 highest-burden countries to mark progress during this timeframe.
“India is a consistent driving force in the fight against malaria,” Pratik Kumar, said Senior Advisor and Acting Country Director, Malaria No More India. “For India, meeting its 2030 malaria-free goal will not be easy, but like India’s success eliminating polio and smallpox, India can succeed. To do this, India must mobilize the political will to end malaria and expand proven models to further drive down malaria cases across the country.”
New tools emerging to continue progress against malaria
Since last World Malaria Day, long-time R&D investments are producing innovations:
• RTS,S the world’s first, and to date, only vaccine to show partial protection against malaria in young children rolled out in a pilot program in Malawi, yesterday, with similar pilots expected to be launched soon in Ghana and Kenya.
• The U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved tafenoquine, a single dose, radical cure to prevent relapse of malaria’s second most common parasite, p.vivax, which infects 8.5 million people every year.
• WHO approved a new class of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) called PBO (piperonyl butoxide) LLINs, which have proven effective against insecticide resistant mosquitoes in high malaria transmission areas.
• Later this year, the world will celebrate the delivery of over 2 billion life-saving bed nets since 2000.
“No one tool will end malaria,” Edlund said. “Rather, it will require a robust pipeline of transformative new tools, data-driven targeting based on local conditions, and strong underlying health systems – including networks of frontline health workers. This should ensure the right tools get to the communities and families that need them most.”
Communities are taking ownership
This year’s World Malaria Day theme, ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me,’ reminds citizens everywhere, and particularly in malaria burdened countries, that they not only have personal responsibility in protecting their families, communities and countries from this preventable disease, but also the power to hold leaders accountable for meeting their commitments to end the disease.
Among actions that leaders and people at all levels are expected to announce this World Malaria Day:
• Francophone Mayors, representing major French-speaking cities all over the world, will commit to integrating ways to fight malaria in urban development strategies to help many of the 300 million people at risk for malaria in Francophone countries.
• More than 40 civil society organizations from around the world are forming a new coalition– Civil Society for Malaria Elimination (CS4ME) –to harness the power of a global network of civil society and communities to achieve malaria elimination.
• The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is working with multi-sector partnerships in Eswatini, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia to establish national End Malaria Councils and Funds with high level stakeholders committing to prioritize malaria control and elimination on national agendas.
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. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org