After years of making progress in reducing the number of malaria cases globally, the World malaria report 2018 shows that the progress stalled recently. However, the World Health Organization and its partners are not having any of it, as they join hands to get the global malaria response back on track in a new country-led response, launched on Monday, 19 November.
For two consecutive years, the number of people affected by malaria has been stagnant despite efforts to reduce the number to the barest minimum and possibly eradicate the mosquito-borne infectious disease. From the annual WHO World malaria report released annually, the estimated malaria cases in 2016 and 2017, (217 and 219 million) shows that little progress has occurred in the past two years compared to the years prior when the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling. (239 million in 2010 and 214 million in 2015.)
According to the report, almost 80 percent of the global malaria burden is on fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India, of which five of these countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide. Nigeria accounted for 25 percent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo accounted for 11 percent, 5 percent were in Mozambique, while 4 percent were in Uganda.
Of the 151 million malaria cases in 2017, the highest number of deaths (274 000) were concentrated in 10 African countries and Nigeria still topped the list as the country with the highest number of deaths. In total, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for almost 50 percent of all global malaria deaths.
Meanwhile, it is not all bad news for Africa as Rwanda showed a significant reduction in its malaria burden, with 430 thousand fewer cases in 2017 than in 2016. Ethiopia also marked a decrease of over 240 thousand cases over the same period. Algeria has made formal requests to WHO for certification declaring the country malaria-free.
The country-led response which is supported by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria is based on four pillars: galvanizing political will nationally and globally to reduce malaria deaths; using strategic information to drive impact; implementing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria-endemic countries and finally, applying a coordinated country response.
Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership noted that “there is no standing still with malaria. The latest World malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option.” He added that “The new country-led response will jumpstart aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face.”