Global malaria response “off track” in 2016

World Malaria Report figures show loss of momentum in the fight against malaria

29 Nov 2017

The World Malaria Report (WMR) 2017 was launched simultaneously in Delhi and London today. The report reveals that progress against malaria over the past 6 years has “stalled”, implying that unless momentum is renewed, the achievement of the 2020 targets of WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria is under threat, specifically with respect to the goal to reduce malaria case incidence and mortality by at least 40%.

At a glance, the report estimates that malaria incidence and mortality rates in 2016 are similar to those of the previous year. Globally, malaria cases are up by 5 million, to 216 million. Around 90% of the cases are still reported from Africa, with Nigeria continuing to bear 27% of the world’s malaria burden. Malaria mortality rates, both globally and in Africa, have, however, been on the decline since 2010, and the actual number of those who lost their lives to the disease in 2016 was 445,000. Nevertheless, malaria continues to take the life of a child every 2 minutes.

With improvements in surveillance systems and diagnostics, a rise in case incidence and mortality figures is to be expected.

The good news is that seven more countries are drawing closer to elimination compared to 2010, bringing the total number of countries with fewer than 10,000 malaria cases up to 44, with the biggest investment seen in Southeast Asia.

The WMR highlights that funding for the global malaria response at USD2.7 billion continues to be less than half the 2020 funding target, and is less than funding raised in 2015. It calls for increased investment in R&D and an urgent bridging of the gaps in access to existing tools required to meet the unmet medical needs of patients.

 “The Global Malaria Programme has once again produced an impressive body of work, and it reveals a concerning truth. Malaria has deeper roots than we think. We cannot stop our work and must increase the pressure on malaria if we are to defeat it,” said Dr David Reddy, MMV’s CEO. “Since inception in 1999, MMV and partners have brought seven new medicines to market. In alignment with the urgent need highlighted by the WMR, MMV’s focus now includes increasing access to these life-saving medicines. In addition, MMV will continue to develop the drugs needed to make greater in-roads against malaria in line with the global agenda, including easier-to-take medicines that can counter resistance, block transmission and cure relapsing malaria.”

WHO’s WMR is the result of a year-long assessment of the state-of-play and progress in malaria control and elimination activities in endemic countries. It also provides a detailed overview of the impact of malaria interventions on the disease burden and reviews financial resource commitments and financial gaps. The report is based on information received from national malaria control programmes and other partners in endemic countries.