Policymakers call for greater investment in fight against malaria

Written by Martin Banks on 25 April 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

On World Malaria Day, MEPs have called on the international community to increase their efforts to tackle this oldest of diseases.

World Malaria Day: Ready to beat malaria | Photo credit: Adobe Stock


It’s a disease that is almost as old as humanity itself. It still causes over 400,000 deaths globally and puts 3.2 billion people at risk - almost half of the world’s population. On 25 April, World Malaria Day will be marked around the world to raise awareness about the burden of malaria worldwide and malaria prevention and control.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global response to malaria is at a crossroads. It says that following an unprecedented period of success in malaria control, progress has stalled and the current pace is insufficient to achieve the 2020 milestones of the WHO global technical strategy for malaria, 2016–2030. 

This calls for a 40 per cent reduction in malaria case incidence and death rates. WHO says that affected countries are increasingly falling into one of two categories: those moving towards elimination and those with a high burden of the disease that have reported significant increases in malaria cases.


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The organisation has joined others in promoting this year’s World Malaria Day theme, ‘Ready to beat malaria’. The idea, says WHO, is to unite around the common goal of a world free of malaria.

While acknowledging “remarkable progress” in tackling the disease, it points to “worrying trends” in WHO’s world malaria report. 

This warns that without urgent action, the major gains in the fight against malaria will be under threat. World Malaria Day, says, WHO, is a chance to call for “greater investment and expanded coverage of proven tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.”

It is a message echoed by Linda McAvan, Chair of Parliament’s development committee. She says, “Death rates and new infection cases have dropped significantly. The EU has been an active partner in the fight to eradicate malaria. 

“Since 2001, the EU has provided over €2bn to the global fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria, with several individual EU member states also contributing. Under the EU’s Framework 7 and Horizon 2020, 86 malaria research projects have received €160m in funding. The progress made so far in tackling malaria shows that the disease is both treatable and preventable.” 

She adds, “We need to redouble our e  orts through research and innovative technologies to find inexpensive and effective solutions. 15 countries carry 80 per cent of the global malaria burden. We must work with them to improve their own health systems so they too can be ready to beat malaria.”

Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala says, “The progress so far has been encouraging. Now it is time to beat malaria once and for all, and for this we need investments to health services available for all, research innovations and technology - and most of all, political leadership.”

Although malaria can be fatal, illness and death from malaria are largely preventable. In 2016, the last year for which data is available, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria worldwide, the majority of which were in sub-Saharan Africa. Of those infected, a staggering 445,000 died - 1219 lives lost every day, or nearly one a minute; 70 per cent of those deaths are in children under five.

 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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