World Malaria Day
Since 2000, malaria-affected countries and their development partners have made remarkable progress in reducing the total number of malaria cases and deaths. But the toll of malaria remains unacceptably high. Every two minutes, a child dies of this preventable and treatable disease. And each year, more than 200 million new cases of the disease are reported.
Country ownership key to success
Urgent action is needed, and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria. On World Malaria Day 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) joins the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union Commission and other partner organizations in promoting “Zero malaria starts with me,” a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.
The “Zero malaria” campaign – first launched in Senegal in 2014 – was officially endorsed at the African Union Summit by all African Heads of State in July 2018. It engages all members of society: political leaders who control government policy decisions and budgets; private sector companies that will benefit from a malaria-free workforce; and communities affected by malaria, whose buy-in and ownership of malaria control interventions is critical to success.
As the WHO Director General has noted, individual and community empowerment through grassroots initiatives like the “Zero malaria” campaign can play a critical role in driving progress in the global malaria fight.
Getting back on track
WHO and the RBM Partnership recently catalyzed “High burden to high impact”, a new approach to get the malaria fight back on track, particularly in countries that carry the highest burden of disease. The approach is founded on 4 pillars:
Political will to reduce malaria deaths
Strategic information to drive impact
Better guidance, policies and strategies
A coordinated national malaria response
Pillar 1 calls on leaders of malaria-affected countries to translate their stated political commitments into resources and tangible actions that will save more lives. To this end, campaigns that engage communities and country leaders – like “Zero malaria starts with me” – can foster an environment of accountability and action.
Signs of hope
While progress in the global response to malaria has levelled off, a subset of countries with a low burden of malaria is moving quickly towards elimination. In 2017:
46 countries reported fewer than 10 000 indigenous malaria cases, up from 37 countries in 201026 countries reported fewer than 100 malaria cases, up from 15 countries in 2010.
China and El Salvador reported zero indigenous cases of malaria in 2017 – a first for both countries.
Countries that achieve at least 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases can apply for an official WHO certification of malaria elimination. In 2018, two countries reached this milestone: Paraguay and Uzbekistan.
Some countries with a high burden of malaria are also making strong strides in reducing their burden of the disease.
India – a country that represents 4% of the global malaria burden – registered a 24% reduction in cases in 2017 compared to 2016.
Other countries that noted considerable declines in cases in 2017 include Ethiopia (-8.9%), Pakistan (-20.5%) and Rwanda (-6.6%).
Prospects for new interventions
Boosting investments in the development and deployment of a new generation of malaria tools is key to achieving the 2030 global malaria targets.
For vector control, new interventions that target outdoor-biting mosquitoes are being explored. New chemical formulations to mitigate the threat of insecticide resistance are under development, as are new strategies to improve the delivery of treated nets and indoor spraying.
Source: World Health Organization