Malaria at the Crossroads

15 Oct 2013

APPMG 2013 Malaria Report

Malaria eradication – great progress has been made but annual deaths are still over 660,000.

Big challenges remain. An estimated 660,000 people are still dying every year from the disease, the vast majority children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is not only the estimated 1.1 million deaths which were prevented between 2001 and 2010 – each one a precious son, daughter, mother or father – but also the hundreds of millions of malaria avoidance enabling people to work, or go to school when they could not otherwise have done.

Some of the excellent economic growth seen in many sub-Saharan African countries in recent years can be attributed to better control of malaria and other debilitating or fatal diseases.

However, the threat of insecticide resistance needs to be taken very seriously. The tools which have served us so well – insecticide-treated bednets (LLIN) for prevention and Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) for cure – are both coming up against resistance by the ever-versatile and resilient malaria parasite.

Closing the funding gap is vital. The money required to control and eventually eradicate malaria from the planet remains far greater than the money allocated, despite a huge increase in resources since 2001.
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This report shows how large the funding gap remains, and this is despite very substantial increases in money coming via the Global Fund and directly from the US and UK governments. The UK is one of the funding leaders, with a recent announcement by the Secretary of State of £1 billion funding for the Global Fund for the period 2014-16.

There are three major ways in which this gap can be filled:

a. official development assistance (ODA) from governments

b. private individuals and companies

c. domestic health spending by countries in which malaria is endemic.

The governments of most endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa (where most of the disease burden and deaths occur) have signed pledges such as the Abuja declaration to commit 15% of their national budget to health – but only nine countries, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Togo and Zambia had achieved this target in 2011 (WHO figures).

People living in these countries where the Abuja target has not yet been reached should keep up the pressure on their governments to achieve the targets. In doing so, they will be more able to maintain the progress they have made in fighting not only malaria but HIV/AIDS, TB, pneumonia and the other diseases which cause such pain and suffering and which continue to hold their economies back from greater growth.