The World Malaria Report underscores that the scourge of malaria continues to strike hardest against pregnant women and children in Africa.
Dar es Saalam, 06 December 2019- WHO on Wednesday released the 2019 World Malaria Report showing significant progress across several African countries battling with the epidemic. However, in recent years beginning 2016, global progress in reducing malaria cases has stalled. Threatening the progress built over the years, malaria is on the rise across several high-burden countries in Africa. The magnitude of the disease on the continent is disproportionate, in 2018, of the 228 million cases of malaria worldwide, 213 million or 93% were in the WHO Africa Region. Furthermore, six countries in Africa accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Niger (4% each). The High Burden High Impact approach was launched last year by the RBM partnership and WHO to support the high burden coutnries to get back on track.
“ If significant action is not taken now to accelerate interventions across Africa the critical milestones set in the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030 and the global targets are likely to be missed. The bottom line is we have to increase domestic investments and sustain global investments in the short to medium term. The 2019 African Union Malaria Progress Report to Heads of State and Government will highlight the key actions needed to ensure the disease remains high on the political agenda and will help to ensure that action is accelerated”, said Joy Phumaphi, ALMA Executive Secretary.
In 2018, there were an estimated 405 000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 416 000 estimated deaths in 2017, and 585 000 in 2010 showing a gradual decline over the decade. Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2018, they accounted for 67% (272 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide. Out of this, the WHO African Region accounted for 94% of all malaria deaths in 2018.
The World Malaria Report 2019 includes a special section focused on the burden and consequences of the disease among women and children. It delivers a clear message: we must all do more to protect the most vulnerable in the fight against a disease that continues to claim more than 400 000 lives every year. Malaria in pregnancy compromises the mother’s health and puts her at greater risk of death. It leads to prematurity and low birthweight, major contributors to death in unborn and newly born babies. Last year, some 11 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa were infected with malaria and, consequently, nearly 900 000 children were born with a low birthweight.
To protect pregnant women in Africa, WHO recommends the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and preventive antimalarial medicines. There is some good news, there is progress on both fronts. Still, nearly 40% of pregnant woman did not sleep under treated nets in 2018 and two thirds did not receive the recommended three or more doses of preventive therapy. Among children, efforts to expand access to preventive antimalarial medicines are bearing fruit. In Africa’s Sahel sub-region, nearly three quarters of children living in areas eligible for preventive therapy received it in 2018.
However, more resources are required. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is already supporting the establishment of new initiatives to accelerate action for increased resource mobilization including the establishment of End Malaria Funds and Councils. According to the World Malaria Report in 2018, an estimated US$ 2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally by governments of malaria endemic countries and international partners. The amount invested in 2018 fell short of the US$ 5.0 billion estimated to be required globally to stay on track towards the global milestones. Of the US$ 2.7 billion invested in 2018, US$ 1.8 billion came from international funders. Governments of malaria endemic countries contributed 30% of total funding (US$ 900 million) in 2018, a figure unchanged from 2017.