Malaria continues to strike pregnant women and children hardest and new tools are critical, according to WHO’s latest report

MMV remains committed to developing and delivering new antimalarials for vulnerable groups in the drive towards malaria eradication

05 Dec 2019

According to this year’s World Malaria Report, global malaria deaths are declining at a slower rate than in recent years. There were 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths in 2018 compared to 231 million cases and 416,000 deaths in 2017. The disease continues to strike hardest against pregnant women and children in Africa – a child still dies from malaria every 2 minutes and malaria in pregnancy compromises the health of both the mother and child and can be fatal for both. Focusing on reducing the burden of malaria in these populations provides one of the most significant opportunities to improve maternal health and child survival.

The report states that last year, an estimated 11 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa – 29% of all pregnancies – were infected by malaria. The disease carries substantial risks for the mother and her unborn child. For example, an estimated 900,000 children in Africa were born with low birth weight (a major contributor to infant mortality) due to malaria in pregnancy.

MMV’s strategy is aligned with the World Malaria Report’s special focus on the burden of malaria on pregnant women and children. In addition to its focus on developing new antimalarials for children, MMV is committed to prioritizing the therapeutic needs of pregnant and lactating women at risk of malaria by accelerating the discovery, development and delivery of adequate, high-quality antimalarial options for all stages of pregnancy and lactation. Specifically, MMV will:

  1. Continue to investigate how to repurpose existing medicines and improve options for pregnant women e.g. by supporting scale-up of protective medicines and gathering data on use of current medicines
  2. Explore innovative R&D strategies to identify new medicines for this group
  3. Advocate for the inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in the clinical research agenda

“MMV welcomes this year’s World Malaria Report and the news that malaria cases and deaths are declining, albeit at a slower rate,” said Dr David Reddy, MMV’s CEO. “MMV’s 11 co-developed medicines are estimated to have saved the lives of more than 2 million people to date. Yet, it’s clear that the pace of progress against the disease must improve and that global elimination targets will be missed without a redoubling of effort. MMV is committed to working with our partners to develop and deliver optimum treatments including ones that address the specific needs of children and pregnant women and to support elimination efforts. We will also support country-led efforts to tackle the disease where it has the strongest foothold.”