The World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Malaria Report 2016 highlights that there has been a significant improvement in access to effective malaria-fighting interventions. However, gaps in coverage remain in high malaria burden countries and funding shortfalls are delaying essential progress in malaria control and elimination. The report, released today, states that sustained and sufficient funding is required in order to accelerate malaria control programmes and achieve the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (GTS) milestones set for 2020.
GTS 2020 milestones include a 40 percent reduction in malaria case incidence and mortality, eliminating malaria from at least 10 countries and preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.
Currently 49 out of 91 malaria-endemic countries are on target to achieve the 40 percent reduction in malaria mortality by 2020, and only 40 countries on track to reach the 40 percent reduction in case incidence. However there is evidence that the concerted global focus on tackling malaria is having positive results.
Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have fallen by 62 percent in the African Region, and by 69 percent among children under five. Globally, between 2010 and 2015, global malaria case incidence rates dropped by 21 percent and 29 percent, respectively. In the same reporting period there has been an 80 percent increase in the use of treated mosquito nets, a 77 percent increase in diagnostic testing for children with a fever seeking care and a five-fold increase in the recommended three or more doses of preventive treatment for pregnant women.
“The report shows that the interventions available to us at present do work when targeted appropriately,” Malaria Consortium Chief Executive Charles Nelson said. “We must continue to scale up and ensure that those interventions reach all populations, especially the most vulnerable and hardest to reach in high burden environments, and enhance surveillance and response to breakthrough cases where there is the opportunity to eliminate malaria, if we are to achieve the targets set in the Global Technical Strategy. This will require an increase in funding, both from domestic and international sources.”
Malaria funding totalled US$2.9 billion in 2015, which represents 45 percent of the annual funding target of US$6.4 billion set for 2020, set by the GTS.
Other successes from the report include an increase in the life expectancy in Sub-Saharan Africa from 50.6 years in 2000 to 60 years in 2015, of which 12 percent is attributed to malaria reduction. It is also expected that the GTS target of eliminating malaria from ten countries by 2020 will be achieved.
Despite these achievements, the central theme of the report is the need for additional funding to continue operational research, develop new tools and medicines, and expand access to core malaria commodities. The challenges of reaching the 2020 GTS targets, though sizeable, are not insurmountable, the report says, and with all partners united, we can defeat malaria and improve the health of millions of people around the world.