Thursday, 14 December, 2017

World Health Organization malaria report warns funding gaps stymie progress

World Health Organization malaria report warns funding gaps stymie progress World Health Organization malaria report warns funding gaps stymie progress
Steve Townsend | 30 November, 2017, 13:44

"There is a real chance malaria could be eliminated, this year's World Malaria Report suggests, but only if funding increases..."

While the number of deaths remained largely similar, at 445,000, the World Health Organization said said antimalarial efforts risked going backwards with the current, insufficient level of funding.

"In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. For every $1 we invest in malaria control and elimination we yield a $36 return for our economies. We need global and domestic funding to step up if we are to double the malaria investment to meet the $6.5 billion-a-year need by 2020.

The WHO's World Malaria Report 2017, released on November 29, would hopefully serve as a wake-up call to the global health community, Alonso said. Yet, according to the new report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones.

A major problem is insufficient funding at both domestic and worldwide levels, resulting in major gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines, and other life-saving tools, it said. All but one country in sub-Saharan Africa carried 80 per cent of the global malaria burden. "Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases, respectively, detected by the surveillance system".

The U.S. remains the largest global source of malaria financing, giving $1 billion, in 2016. And fatalities followed a similar pattern.

Meanwhile, a total of eight countries in Africa recorded a greater than 20% increase in cases in 2016 compared to 2015. "Staying focused on ending malaria will help achieve global commitments to end all communicable diseases and strengthen health systems", said Dr. Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. In 2016, an estimated 54% of people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa slept under an ITN compared to 30% in 2010.

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The report also mentions between 2014 and 2016, a total of 582 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) were reported by manufacturers as having been delivered globally.

Between 2014 and 2016, substantial increases in case incidence occurred in the WHO Region of the Americas, and marginally in the WHO Southeast Asia, Western Pacific and African regions.

Malaria, along with AIDS and tuberculosis, also receives more than half of the global fund to fight them.

"That amount of funding internationally has plateaued; possibly it has reached the realistic maximum now", said David Conway, a professor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. For example, country surveys in the African region reveal that only about one third of children with a fever are taken to a medical provider in public health sectors.

The report also pour light on the 76 malaria endemic countries that provided data for 2010 to 2016, resistance to at least one insecticide in one malaria vector from one collection site was detected in 61 countries. However, new responses are needed to address growing concerns over drug resistance in the Mekong region, insecticide resistance in large areas of Africa, as well as an upsurge of malaria in humanitarian hotspots including Yemen and Venezuela. Madagascar, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and The Gambia registered reductions in the number of malaria cases a year ago.

"Meeting the global malaria targets will only be possible through greater investment and expanded coverage of core tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria", he said. "Robust financing for the research and development of new tools is equally critical".

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