A report released today in Geneva says Nigeria, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo DRC have seen the largest increases in malaria cases, jeopardizing the gains recorded since 2000.
The Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which released the report, said unprecedented global progress in fighting malaria since 18 years ago is at stake unless countries redouble their efforts.
It however showcased countries making progress. They are Sri Lanka, Senegal and Madagascar.
The World Malaria Report 2017 shows fragile and uneven progress in global efforts against malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease, which puts half the world’s population at risk and costs a child’s life every two minutes.
According to the report, malaria-related cases and deaths worldwide stood at 216 million and 445,000, respectively, in 2016, a flatline in the tremendous gains of the past 16 years in the fight against malaria. The report sends a clear warning that progress could be in jeopardy and resurgence is on the rise.
“Limiting malaria’s devastating impact on families, communities and countries has been one of the global health success stories of our time. Since 2000, thanks to significant investment, strong political leadership and new tools, we have saved nearly 7 million lives from this deadly disease. Today, we have an opportunity to save millions more by renewing our resolve and commitment, as a global community, to end malaria for good,” said Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair of the Board of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.
The report shows a growing gap between high-burden countries, many of which have seen a greater than 20% increase in malaria cases and deaths, and those that are on the path towards malaria elimination. Rwanda has seen the greatest increase in malaria cases since last year — around 1 million, while Madagascar has the greatest decrease of more than 800,000.
Two African countries — Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — account for 37% of global malaria burden and require the biggest investment in tackling malaria over the coming years.
According to the latest RBM Partnership gap analysis, between now and 2020, DRC will require an additional 23 million long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) and an extra US$ 536 million to sufficiently protect its population from malaria.
Nigeria, in turn, will need around 72 million additional LLINs and faces a funding gap of US$ 690 million between now and 2020 for procurement and delivery of essential commodities alone. Currently, 13 Nigerian states have no dedicated funding to fight malaria.
Meanwhile, countries such as Senegal and Sri Lanka are showing that beating malaria is possible. Sri Lanka was certified as malaria-free by WHO in 2016, a milestone largely achieved through domestic financing.
Senegal has seen its malaria cases decreased by more than 250,000 since last year, and is among a handful of countries that have upped their per capita spending on malaria in the same period. A nationwide malaria campaign “Zero malaria starts with me” is engaging Senegalese citizens to keep malaria high on the agenda.