WHO urges investment drive as malaria fight stalls

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Global malaria infection and death rates have remained virtually unchanged since 2015, WHO said, adding that the world is now off track, as is shown in the WHO World Malaria Report in 2018, to achieve the 2030 goals set out in the WHO Global Technical Strategy for malaria 2016-2030, which aims for a 90-percent reduction in the malaria case incidence and mortality rate.

He said "with the tools we have today, it is most unlikely eradication will be achieved". Scaling up current malaria interventions would prevent an additional two billion malaria cases and four million deaths by 2030, provided that those interventions reach 90 percent of the population in the 29 countries that account for 95 percent of the global burden.

"In some cases we are witnessing a resurgence of malaria".

When the group looked at funding, they found that less than 1% of support for health research and development targets tools to fight malaria.

"Our priority now should be to establish the foundation for a successful future eradication effort while guarding against the risk of failure that would lead to the waste of huge sums of money, frustrate all those involved, national governments and malaria experts alike, and cause a lack of confidence in the global health community's ability to ever rid the world of this disease", said the report. He noted, however, that in some of the worst-hit countries, malaria cases are increasing, showing a need "to reignite and accelerate progress".

Three in five malaria fatalities are children aged under 5, the World Health Organization stated.

Science has long invented drugs for the prevention of malaria, which are also constantly in short supply.

"Freeing the world of malaria would be one of the greatest achievements in public health", says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. Last November, for example, World Health Organization and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria launched the "High burden to high impact" approach. "With new tools and approaches we can make this vision a reality", he added.

"However, malaria cases are increasing in the highest burden countries, and we are working with partners to do more to reignite and accelerate progress to drive malaria cases back down and stay on track to end this deadly yet preventable and treatable disease once and for all". This aims to jumpstart progress against malaria by targeting attention to the 11 countries with 70% of the world's malaria burden - 10 African countries and India.

There are several medications available to treat and control malaria and effective insecticides to fight mosquitoes, its main transmitter, but in the opinion of experts this is not enough to completely erradicate the disease. A partially effective vaccine - the world's first against malaria - has been developed by the British drugmaker GSK and is being deployed in Ghana and Malawi, with plans for rollout in Kenya.