Despite a few bright spots, the recently released World Malaria Report paints a gloomy picture of stagnating progress and increasing concentration of the burden of one of the world’s most lethal diseases, says a Financial Times report. Paraguay has been certified as free of the parasite, while Algeria, Argentina, Uzbekistan and China are not far off. Rwanda, Ethiopia and Pakistan show reduced infection levels.
Yet, the report says, the countries with the highest burden – including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Uganda – went backwards. Put more starkly: the annual death toll remains 435,000, and the disease still kills a child every two minutes.
The report says reversing the trend will require radical new approaches, greater funding and a fresh focus by donors and high burden countries alike.
An alarm bell is ringing around the world today: for the second straight year, there is a flatlining of what had been a steady decline in the global malaria epidemic, writes Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation in The Lancet. He writes that from 2000 to 2015, the malaria control community had grown accustomed to celebrating the annual reported reduction in cases and deaths.
Millions of lives were saved through use of vector control measures, diagnosis, and treatment. Exorbitant health-care costs for many people were averted. Children could attend school instead of a health facility. Breadwinners could keep providing for families.
But, he writes, in the past 2 years, there has been a worrying halt in progress, especially in the highest-burden countries. Both the reduction in cases and levels of investment in treatment and innovations have stalled.
New data from the World Malaria Report 2018 shows that progress in the global malaria response has levelled off and, in some countries, the disease is on the rise. To get the response back on track, the WHO director-general has called for an aggressive new approach that will jump-start progress against malaria.
“High burden to high impact” is a country-led approach that will be supported by WHO, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and other partners.
The attainment of the targets of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 – or the failure to do so – will define whether the high impact approach succeeds in achieving its most pressing goal: getting the response back on track, and then making further gains to ensure that the 2030 goals are met.
The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. The document was developed through an inclusive process under the guidance of a Steering Committee composed of leading malaria technical experts, scientists and country representatives. Oversight was provided by the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee.
During the strategy development process, WHO consulted all affected countries through a series of 7 regional consultations.
In July-August 2014, WHO held a public web consultation, during which members of the global health community, including non-governmental organisations in official relations with WHO, had an opportunity to comment on the draft.