Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – A latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that global efforts against malaria, particularly in high burden countries in Africa, continues to plateau.
Gaps in access to life-saving tools are undermining global efforts to curb the disease, and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to set back the fight even further, WHO says in a written statement by Indonesia Window here on Tuesday.
“It is time for leaders across Africa – and the world – to rise once again to the challenge of malaria, just as they did when they laid the foundation for the progress made since the beginning of this century,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Through joint action, and a commitment to leaving no one behind, we can achieve our shared vision of a world free of malaria,” he added.
In 2000, African leaders signed the landmark Abuja Declaration pledging to reduce malaria deaths on the continent by 50 persen over a 10-year period.
Robust political commitment, together with innovations in new tools and a steep increase in funding, catalyzed an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control.
According to the report, 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million deaths have been averted since 2000.
WHO pointed out that in 2019, the global tally of malaria cases was 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last 4 years. The disease claimed some 409,000 lives in 2019 compared to 411,000 in 2018.
As in past years, the African Region shouldered more than 90 percent of the overall disease burden.
Since 2000, the region has reduced its malaria death toll by 44 percent, from an estimated 680,000 to 384,000 annually.
However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in countries with a high burden of the disease.
A funding shortfall at both the international and domestic levels poses a significant threat to future gains.
In 2019, total funding reached 3 billion U.S. dollars against a global target of 5.6 billion U.S. dollars.
Funding shortages have led to critical gaps in access to proven malaria control tools, WHO said.
Reporting by Indonesia Window