“We already have the tools available to prevent anyone dying from malaria and evidence shows that the global commitment to defeat this disease has made a significant impact.” Charles Nelson, Malaria Consortium Chief Executive, was present at the launch of a UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) ‘Achieving the Malaria MDG Target’ report in the UK Parliament yesterday.
Malaria Consortium welcomes the findings of the report which highlights progress made against the sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG). This progress has been achieved thanks to the significant increase in resourcing, turned into accessible tools for prevention and treatment, following the launch of the MDGs. The malaria specific target, to “have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases” was drafted in 2000 when the incidence of malaria was growing and caused over a million deaths each year.
Progress against malaria has been one of the great successes of the MDG era, and the report states that “target 6C has been met convincingly”. Results show that since 2000, global deaths from malaria have been more than halved, with 6.2 million deaths averted. Child malaria mortality rates have fallen by 65 percent and the proportion of children under five who are sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets – one of the best methods of preventing malaria – has jumped from two to 68 percent. Treatment has also improved, with more children than ever before getting appropriate antimalarial treatment (consisting of artemisinin combination therapies).
Yet malaria still takes an unacceptable human and economic toll in countries where it remains endemic. Although the progress made over the last 15 years is cause for celebration, it must also act as an encouragement to policymakers and other actors to continue to scale up the resources and interventions.
“The emergence of artemisinin resistant malaria parasites in Southeast Asia threatens to undermine what has been achieved,” said Mr Nelson. “Malaria is a resilient disease that requires timely parasite-based diagnosis and a coordinated response. We must continue to scale up the interventions that we know to be the most effective.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, praised the commitment and leadership of the UK in the fight against malaria. She urged Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development and also present, to sustain the UK’s commendable financial commitment to defeating malaria in order to encourage other donor nations to follow their lead.