By 2040, Malaria May be a Disease of the Past

By Jennifer Orford

Over the next two weeks Impact will post the top 12 global health moments of 2015 with commentary from experts. We want to hear your thoughts, too. So login and comment, share on social media and reflect on what has been a pretty interesting year for global health.

In 2015, momentum grew exponentially in the fight against malaria, leading to unprecedented action to eliminate the disease for the first time in six decades. And while Millennium Development Goal target 6c was reached this year,  as many as about 3.2 million people remain at risk of malaria. In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, taking the life of a child every 2 minutes, according to the World Malaria Report 2015.

In May 2015, the World Health Assembly adopted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 with a bold vision of reducing malaria by at least 90 percent by 2030, eliminating the disease in at least 35 new countries, and preventing its re-establishment in countries that are malaria-free.Woman with net_Benedict Desrus

The new strategy, developed in close consultation with WHO Member States and key stakeholders, emphasizes the need for universal coverage of core malaria interventions for all populations at risk, and highlights the importance of using high-quality surveillance data for decision-making. It also identifies areas where innovative solutions will be essential for attaining the goals, and summarizes the estimated global costs of implementation.

“A major scale-up of malaria responses will not only help countries reach the health-related targets for 2030, but will contribute to poverty reduction and other [Sustainable] Development Goals,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “In the next 18 months, we will develop and roll out implementation plans in all WHO regions and support countries in updating their national malaria plans. We stand ready to expand our reach and increase our support to all countries irrespective of where they are along the elimination continuum.”

Following this extraordinary scale-up by WHO’s new strategy for control, Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ray Chambers, United Nations Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and for Malaria, released the report From Aspiration to Action on September 28, 2015, challenging world leaders to step-up their game, and commit to eradicating malaria by 2040.

“Eradication is the only sustainable solution to malaria,” says Gates. “The alternative would be endless investment in the development of new drugs and insecticides just to stay one step ahead of resistance. The world can’t afford that approach.”

“Eradication is the only sustainable solution to malaria,” says Gates.

This innovative report draws on lessons learned, and focuses on new strategies such as (surveillance as the backbone of elimination; the development of transformative tools that will detect, treat, and prevent malaria; and new funding mechanisms which would not only include donor resources, but also malaria-affected country and regional budgets. The report indicates that the new strategy could save an estimated 11 million lives and unlock an estimated $2 trillion in economic benefits.

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Learn how PSI works with national malaria control programs in 38 countries to prevent and treat the disease by clicking here.

Photo Credit(s): Benedict Desrus

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