On April 25th we observe World Malaria Day. It is an occasion to recognize the global effort to effectively control, and eventually wipe out, this terrible disease. This year’s theme is “End Malaria for Good.”
In 2015, 212 million people became sick with malaria, and over 429,000 died. The World Health Organization, or WHO, reports that 90 percent of malaria cases were reported in Africa, as were 92 percent of malaria-related deaths.
The good news is malaria is preventable and curable, and there is good reason to believe that we can eliminate it altogether. Indeed, between 2000 and 2015, when the international community intensified its efforts, new cases among populations at risk fell by 29 percent globally.
Nonetheless, a child still dies from malaria every two minutes.
That is why 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- have, and will continue to, 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 World Health Organization has developed the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, which provides a technical framework for all endemic countries as they work towards control and elimination.
The first goals, to be reached by the year 2020, are to reduce malaria incidence by at least 40 percent, reduce malaria mortality rates by at least 40 percent, eliminate the disease in at least 10 countries, and prevent a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.
If we are to be successful, donors must step up to help fund the effort. The United States is the largest donor to malaria control and elimination programs, contributing over 50 percent of all donor funding available to countries for implementation. Still, if the 2020 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 contribute to the funds to help roll back, and eventually eliminate, this awful disease once and for all.