Authors: Martha Powell, Future Science Group
The World Malaria Report is published annually; drawing on data from 91 countries and hoping to document the progress made in line with global malaria targets. This year the report suggests that gains are levelling after an unprecedented period of success in malaria control. Below we take a look at some of the key findings.
The number of malaria cases has increased
In the 91 countries assessed there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 2016, 5 million more cases than was estimated in 2015, although the mortalities as a result of this disease remained steady at approximately 445,000.
Progress is slowing
The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for 40% reductions in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by 2020, however, the report states that we are not on track to meet these targets – despite reductions in mortality rates and case incidences since 2014 the downwards trend has been levelling off.
Africa carries the burden
The Africa region continues to bear approximately 90% of all malaria cases and deaths globally, with 15 countries, 14 of which in sub-Saharan Africa, carrying 80% of the global burden.
Funding is insufficient
A major issue is insufficient funding, both at the domestic and international levels, resulting in coverage gaps for medicines, insecticide-treated nets and other interventions. An investment of US$6.5 billion will be required annually by 2020 to meet the malaria targets for 2030, however, 2016 fell significantly short, with an estimated US$2.7 billion of investment.
Insecticide spraying is protecting fewer individuals
Spraying homes with insecticides presents one method of mosquito control for malaria, and protected an estimated 180 million individuals in 2010. However, the number of individuals protected by this method has seen a sharp decrease to only 100 million in 2016. In addition, although the report reveals that in 2016 an estimated 54% of people slept under insecticide-treated nets, compared with 30% in 2015, the rate of increase for net coverages had slowed since 2014.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, concluded: “In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria. We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond.”
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