London, 14 October - We are at a tipping point in the fight against malaria and the UK government must renew its commitment to beat this preventable and treatable disease.
According to a new report, Malaria in 2014: An Unprecedented Opportunity at the Dawn of a New Era, launched by the All Party parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG) yesterday, the next five years will be decisive in determining the future of malaria: never before has the global community been better placed to make malaria a disease of history.
Threat of resurgence with inaction
Although we have seen major progress since 2000, the disease continued to cause 207 million cases and 627,000 deaths in 2012. Sustained investment needs to drive down the number of malaria cases and deaths still further. Efforts and funds to control malaria need to be sustained, the report says, because evidence shows that when they are relaxed, the disease comes roaring back. We need to speed up and scale up our efforts on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well to stay one step ahead of growing parasite resistance to frontline antimalarial drugs.
Key to access the new era: finish unfinished business and continue commitment
In 2015, the world will celebrate the major milestone of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Great progress has been made with 50 countries on track to reduce malaria cases by 75 percent by 2015 in comparison with 2000. However, these account for only three percent of the total estimated cases worldwide. The malaria and global health communities must commit to completing the ‘unfinished business’ of the MDGs and make malaria control an important indicator in the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals in the post-2015 development agenda.
As we enter a new era, policies are being put in place. The World Health Organization is developing a Global Technical Strategy to accelerate progress on malaria control and to move towards its elimination. Meanwhile the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is updating its Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) to ensure that it is adequately implemented and that maximum benefits are secured.
The UK’s commitment is as important now as it ever was. Addressing the launch, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, former Secretary of State for the Department of International Development (DFID) said: "The UK needs to reach a £500 million figure to ensure continued impact and show global leadership." There is just one year left to achieve DFID’s landmark Malaria: Framework for Results in which it committed to help halve deaths in at least 10 of the highest burden countries.
In order for the UK to remain an ambitious leader in the fight against malaria beyond 2015, when not only the MDGs will be renewed, but general elections could shake up the political scene, it needs to secure the future success of malaria control programmes through investment in malaria control and the development and deployment of new insecticides, drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.
Malaria Consortium supports the APPMG and contributed to the writing of this report. It was written by Professor David Schellenberg of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
You can access the full report on the website of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.