WHO Charts New Course on Malaria

"There is no standing still with malaria. The latest world malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option," said Dr. Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. "The new country-led response will jump-start aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face."

Warning that reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, WHO announced Nov. 19 a new country-led response to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment to protect vulnerable people from the disease. The stagnation on progress was revealed in the new world malaria report 2018: In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.

"Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: As progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment, and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general. "We recognize we have to do something different – now. So today, we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level."

In 2017, approximately 70 percent of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274,000) were concentrated in 10 countries in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and United Republic of Tanzania) and India.

The new country-driven "high burden to high impact" response plan has been launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths. It is based on four pillars:

  • Galvanizing national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths
  • Driving impact through the strategic use of information
  • Establishing best global guidance, policies, and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries
  • Implementing a coordinated country response

"There is no standing still with malaria. The latest world malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option," said Dr. Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. "The new country-led response will jump-start aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face."

To meet the 2030 targets of the global malaria strategy, malaria investments should reach at least $6.6 billion annually by 2020 – more than double the amount available today, WHO reports.

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