WHO calls for sustainable fight against malaria


By Samuel Ben Turay

Assistant Information Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that the World Malaria Report 2013 indicates massive reduction of the disease, and therefore called for such gains to be sustained.

Sahr Gborie said global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing the malaria mortality rates by 45% globally and by 49% in Africa, according to the report.

He said an expansion of prevention and control measures has been mirrored by a consistent decline in malaria deaths and illness, despite an increase in the global population at risk of malaria between 2000 and 2012.

According to him, increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce incidence of malaria by 29% globally, and by 31% in Africa.

“The large majority of the 3.3 million lives saved between 2000 and 2012 were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, and among children aged less than 5 years, the group most affected by the disease,” explained Mr. Gborie.

“Over the same period, malaria mortality rates in children in Africa were reduced by an estimated 54%. This remarkable progress is no cause for complacency: absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could. The fact that so many people are infected and dying from mosquito bites constitutes one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century.”

He further disclosed that in 2012, there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria (uncertainty interval: 135 – 287 million), which caused approximately 627,000 deaths (uncertainty interval 473 000 – 789 000).

“An estimated 3.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria, mostly in Africa and south-east Asia. Around 80% of malaria cases occur in Africa,” he disclosed, adding that malaria prevention suffered a setback after its strong build-up between 2005 and 2010.

“The new WHO report notes a slowdown in the expansion of interventions to control mosquitoes for the second successive year, particularly in providing access to insecticide-treated bed nets. This has been primarily due to lack of funds to procure bed nets in countries that have ongoing malaria transmission,” he said.