WHO 2016 World Malaria Report: Highlighting remarkable progress against malaria and what more is needed to achieve 2020 targets

Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board with speakers from the UK launch of the World Health Organization’s 2016 World Malaria Report, 13th December 2016. 

From Left to Right - Jeremy Leroy MP, Chair UK APPG on Malaria & NTDs (event host), Jeremy Farrar OBE, Director Wellcome Trust, Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho​, Rt Hon. Priti Patel MP, UK Secretary of State for International Development, Dr Pedro Alonso, Director WHO Global Malaria Program, Mark Dybul, Executive Director Global Fund.

The World Health Organization’s 2016 World Malaria Report was launched today in London. 

The report highlights continued progress in the malaria fight, particularly for the most vulnerable. Since 2000, malaria deaths rates have fallen by more than 62 percent – and by 69 percent among children under 5 – saving 6.8 million lives. In the same period, 17 countries have successfully eliminated malaria entirely.  

The 2020 target of eliminating malaria in 10 more countries is within reach, according to the report. In 2015, 10 more countries and territories reported fewer than 150 indigenous cases. But the report also highlights that more resources will be needed to put us on track to achieve the overall 2020 mortality and case reduction targets, particularly in countries with heavy malaria burdens.

A powerful reminder of the progress to date, and what remains to be done.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, said the report is a powerful reminder of the progress to date in the malaria fight – and of what remains to be done:

“We are making remarkable progress in scaling up cost-effective malaria interventions - reaching more of those at risk than ever before - and we are seeing these efforts yield results with malaria cases & deaths continuing to decline. But, with a child still dying every two minutes from this preventable, treatable disease, we are far from done,” said Dr. Mpanju-Shumbusho. “We have proved what can be achieved. Now is the time for us to step up our collective efforts, to build on this success, and accelerate progress.“

New analysis in the report confirms that since 2000, decreased malaria mortality rates have contributed to significant gains in life expectancy across the region. The past five years alone have seen new malaria cases fall by 21 percent and deaths from malaria by 29 percent.

The report notes that recent success in reducing malaria cases and deaths is due, in large part, to improved access to proven malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, including:

  • Almost doubling the proportion of people sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets in Sub-Saharan Africa from 30% in 2010 to 53% in 2015.
  • Significantly increasing the utilization of malaria diagnostic testing for children showing signs of fever.
  • A five-fold increase in pregnant women accessing a full course of preventive malaria treatment across 20 countries – from 6% in 2010 to 31% in 2015.

Despite these gains, malaria still exacts a heavy toll on families and communities.

According to the report, in 2015, there were 212 million new cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths. One child dies from malaria every two minutes.

Malaria remains both a major cause and a consequence of global poverty and inequity: its burden is greatest in the least developed areas and among the poorest members of society. Many of those most vulnerable – especially young children and pregnant women – are still not able to access the life-saving prevention, diagnosis and treatment they so urgently need.

Funding gaps and investment must be addressed.

The report notes that in order to reach the 2020 malaria targets in the Global Technical Strategy, programmatic and funding gaps must be urgently addressed. Over the past five years, global financing for malaria has flat-lined. The funding must increase substantially from both domestic and international sources.

Investment is also needed for new and improved tools. WHO is calling for greater investments in vector control interventions, improved diagnostics and more effective medicines. Last month, WHO also announced that the world’s first malaria vaccine would be piloted in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Vaccinations will begin in 2018.

The report states that recent experience in combatting malaria has shown that with robust funding, effective programmes and country leadership, progress towards global malaria goals can be accelerated.

The challenges of reaching the 2020 GTS targets, though sizeable, are not insurmountable.

NOTES

  • The World Malaria Report released each year by the WHO Global Malaria Programme, tracks progress and trends in malaria control and elimination at global, regional and country levels towards the 2020 malaria targets of the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (GTS).

    Read the full report here