The first of the global targets on the path towards achieving a vision of a malaria-free world is to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 40 per cent by 2020 over 2015.
"In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond", he said.
The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for reductions of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the year 2020. "According to WHO's latest malaria report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones", he said.
One of the major problems is insufficient funding at domestic and global levels, which has led to major gaps in providing insecticide-treated nets, medications, and other malaria-fighting tools, according to the 196-page report.
An estimated $2.7 billion in malaria control and elimination efforts was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally. Providing $800 million, governments of endemic countries represented 31 per cent of the total funding.
Drug resistance to insecticides on the part of malaria-carrying mosquitoes remains a "major concern. and we are tracking this very carefully", Alonso said, but World Health Organization is "moderately reassured" by data in the report showing that bednets remain efficacious even in the face of resistance.
The report shows there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries in 2016, up from 211 million in the previous year.
Meanwhile, a total of eight countries in Africa recorded a greater than 20% increase in cases in 2016 compared to 2015. Of particular concern is that, since 2014, investments in malaria control have, on average, declined in many high-burden countries, " Dr Tedros wrote. Since then, thanks to significant investment, strong political leadership, and rapidly expanding access to life-saving prevention, testing, and treatment tools, we have seen a historic decline in malaria cases and deaths, saving more than 7 million lives from this deadly disease. "We can learn from their achievements to replicate their success across the continent", said King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland and Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance. In 2016, an estimated 54% of people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa slept under an ITN compared to 30% in 2010.
Also encouraging is the lack of a "clear trend" that links high rates of insecticide resistance and a high burden of disease, he pointed out. Between 2014 and 2016, 39% of African children under the age of five who developed fevers were not taken to a trained health-care provider, the WHO report says, citing household surveys. WHO is now supporting malaria responses in Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen, where ongoing humanitarian crises pose serious health risks. "If we continue with a business-as-usual approach - employing the same level of resources and the same interventions - we will face near-certain increases in malaria cases and deaths".
India was the third on the list of 15 countries which accounted for 80 per cent of all malaria cases in the world in 2016, the WHO's World Malaria Report 2017 said. "We hope this report serves as a wake-up call for the global health community".
"More investment is needed to increase the effectiveness of current tools and hasten development of new tools such as next generation insecticides, drugs and vaccines to stay ahead of rising resistance", said Dr. Altaf Lal, Senior Advisor on Global Health and Innovation, Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries and RBM Partnership to End Malaria Board Member.
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