On April 25th we observe World Malaria Day. It is an occasion to recognize the global effort to effectively control, and eventually eliminate, this devastating disease. This year’s theme is “Ready to Beat Malaria.”
In 2016, 216 million people became sick with malaria, and over 445,000 died.The World Health Organization, or WHO, reports that 90 percent of malaria cases were reported in Africa, as were 91 percent of malaria-related deaths.
The good news is malaria is preventable and curable. Over the last nearly two decades, there has been a coordinated global effort to eliminate the disease altogether. Between 2000 and 2015, new cases among populations at risk fell by 29 percent globally.
After an unprecedented period of success in controlling this disease, it is clear that there is more work ahead.
We continue to focus on prevention.Among the most successful weapons we have against this deadly disease are insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides to kill the mosquitoes that carry the illness-causing parasite. These preventive tools - when coupled with strategies to prevent malaria during pregnancy, low-cost diagnostic tools, and highly-effective malaria treatments - dramatically reduce death and disease from malaria.
Yet much more needs to be done. To address remaining challenges, including the emergence of drug-resistant malaria, the WHO has developed the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, which provides a technical framework for all endemic countries as they work towards control and eventually elimination.
The first goals, to be reached by the year 2030, are to reduce malaria incidence by at least 90 percent, reduce malaria mortality rates by at least 90 percent, eliminate the disease in at least 35 countries, and prevent a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.
If we are to be successful, donors must help fund the effort. The United States government has been involved in global malaria activities since the 1950s and, today, is the largest donor to global malaria efforts, including through its President’s Malaria Initiative and U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.Still, if the 2030 targets of the Global Technical Strategy are to be achieved, total funding must increase substantially.
On this day, we call on our friends and partners around the globe to reaffirm their commitment to this important effort and contribute the funds and support needed to help roll back, and eventually eliminate, malaria once and for all.