World Malaria Report 2016 reveals improved malaria control for vulnerable but substantial gaps remain

Urgent need for new funding to beat disease

13 Dec 2016

In its just-released World Malaria Report 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa have better access to malaria control interventions today compared to a year ago. Yet at the same time many gaps in coverage remain. The WHO also emphasizes the critical need to increase funding and to strengthen fragile health systems to meet the ambitious goals laid out in its 2016-2030 Global Technical Strategy.

To protect pregnant women in Africa from malaria, WHO recommends at least three rounds of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). Administered at antenatal care visits beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy, IPTp reduces maternal and infant mortality, but in recent years coverage with this essential intervention has been unacceptably low. Over the past year, MMV and partners have been advocating for improved coverage through stronger integration of IPTp into national strategic planning. Today, the WHO reports a five-fold increase in the percentage of women receiving this intervention in 20 countries, with coverage increasing from 6% in 2010 to 31% in 2015.

Other encouraging findings indicate that in 2015 half of children (51%) presenting with fever at a healthcare facility in 22 African countries received a diagnostic test for malaria compared to 29% in 2010. In addition, the proportion of antimalarial treatments given to children that are ACTs increased from a median of 29% in 2010-2012 to 80% in 2013-2015. Overall case management of malaria is therefore improving.  

Nevertheless, malaria remains an acute public health problem, with around 429,000 deaths reported in 2015 and a child continuing to die from the disease every 2 minutes. Gaps in coverage are reported for key interventions such as bed nets and in-door residual spraying, with around 43% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa still unprotected.

“MMV welcomes the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2016 and, in particular, news of the very significant progress made in the battle against malaria, not least when it comes to diagnosing and treating children and protecting vulnerable pregnant women,” said Dr David Reddy, CEO of MMV. “Yet, it’s clear that while we are gaining ground in many battles, the war is far from over. MMV is committed to playing its part by working with partners to develop and deliver the next-generation of medicines needed to ultimately defeat malaria.”

Go to the World Malaria Report on the WHO website.