In a recent report the World Health Organization has signaled a warning that progress in fighting against malaria has stalled globally.
The organization has said that this is due to lack in funding and complacency that the mosquito-borne disease is less of a threat. In particular, India recorded 6 per cent of the world’s new malaria cases.
Plasmodium falciparum (Malaria) has caused 4,38,000 deaths worldwide in 2015 with 90% of the deaths occurring in Africa alone. Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors." There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – P. falciparum and P. vivax – pose the greatest threat. It is preventable and curable. Malaria deaths reached 445,000 in 2016
In sub-Saharan Africa, which shoulders 90% of the global malaria burden, more than 663 million cases have been averted since 2001. Insecticide-treated nets have had the greatest impact, accounting for an estimated 69% of cases prevented through control tools.
WHO estimates that India accounts for 75% of all malaria cases in South-East Asia. About 95% of the Indian population resides in malaria endemic areas. Nearly 80% of malaria reported in the country is confined to areas where 20% of population resides - in tribal, hilly, hard-to-reach or inaccessible areas.
In a recent report the World Health Organization has signaled a warning that progress in fighting against malaria has stalled globally. The organization has said that this is due to lack in funding and complacency that the mosquito-borne disease is less of a threat. In particular, India recorded 6 per cent of the world’s new malaria cases. This accounts to 216 million cases within a year. Out of all the reported cases, 331 died in the country due to Malaria in 2016 (in India).
“Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases, respectively, detected by the surveillance system,” the report stated. It added, “Odisha, the highest endemic state of India, reported an increase in cases in 2016 (to double the number in 2013). The other countries had no major outbreaks reported.”
Malaria deaths in India were only lower than those in WHO’s Africa region where the figure soared to 33,997 for the Democratic Republic of Congo. 15 countries accounted for 80 per cent of all malaria cases globally in 2016.
“Globally ... after an unprecedented period of success, we are no longer making progress,” said Abdisalan Noor, a WHO expert on malaria and lead author of the report. “I am concerned that we have become complacent.” Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria program, said, “We want (this to be) a wake-up call to the malaria community. We are not on track, and we need to get back on track.”
According to the organization, the funding for malaria has stalled since 2010. In order to address malaria, globally, an investment of $2.7 billion was made in 2016. This was lesser than what was spent in 2015 when $2.9 billion was spent. However, this number is far too low to meet targets. WHO has stated that a minimum annual investment of $6.5 billion has to be made by 2020 to meet projected targets by 2030.
In 2016, there were an estimated 445,000 deaths from malaria in the world, compared to 446,000 estimated deaths in 2015.
Our assessment is that the current warning by WHO should be taken very seriously by the global community. Incidentally, India is one of the most affected regions in the world and it must deploy sufficient resources for both the prevention and eradication of malaria.