Between 2001 and 2015, the global malaria community helped avert 1.3 billion bouts of malaria illness and 6.8 million malaria deaths. This impressive progress was made possible thanks to the scale-up of control measures, like bed nets, insecticides, diagnostics and medicines, underpinned by increased political commitment, new regional initiatives and an rise in international financing. As a result Millennium Development Goal 6.C, to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015, was achieved.1
The World Malaria Report, the World Health Organization’s flagship malaria publication, highlights the following progress towards global targets:
In 2017, an estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 239 million cases in 2010.
The incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2017, from 72 to 59 cases per 1000 population at risk. Although this represents an 18% reduction over the period, the number of cases per 1000 population at risk has stood at 59 for the past 3 years.
In 2017, there were an estimated 435,000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 451,000 estimated deaths in 2016, and 607,000 in 2010.
All WHO regions except the WHO Region of the Americas recorded reductions in mortality in 2017 compared with 2010. The largest declines occurred in the WHO regions of South-East Asia (54%), Africa (40%) and the Eastern Mediterranean (10%).
Globally, the elimination net is widening, with more countries moving towards zero indigenous cases: in 2017, 46 countries reported fewer than 10,000 such cases, up from 44 countries in 2016 and 37 countries in 2010.
Paraguay was certified by WHO as malaria free in 2018, while Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan have made formal requests to WHO for certification.
In 2016, WHO identified 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by the year 2020. WHO is working with the governments in these countries – known as “E-2020 countries” – to support their elimination acceleration goal.
Despite this success, 2017 still witnessed 435,000 malaria deaths. The 2018 World Malaria Report shows that after an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control, progress has stalled. Data from 2015–2017 highlight that no significant progress in reducing global malaria cases was made in this period.
We must not become complacent, or this tremendous progress will be reversed. Malaria remains a major cause and consequence of poverty – disproportionally affecting women and children. Eliminating and ultimately eradicating the disease would vastly improve the lives of many vulnerable families in the developing world, helping to lift them out of poverty.
The Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030, approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2015, sets ambitious but achievable targets for 2030. This strategy seeks to reduce the disease burden and eliminate malaria – objectives that are closely linked to several of the sustainable development goals, which call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
1. World Malaria Report 2016
Source for all other figures: World Malaria Report 2018