This morning, the World Health Organization launched the World Malaria Report 2013, which highlights progress, challenges, and overall trends against global goals for the control and elimination of malaria.
The progress over the past decade is undeniable, thanks to heightened political will and financial commitment. Worldwide, the death toll from malaria has been cut by nearly half—a higher success rate than previously thought. Put another way: 3.3 million people are alive today thanks to investments in malaria interventions. During the report launch at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Dr. Robert Newman, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, noted that the rate of progress is what is particularly exciting.
However, the world is truly at a turning point. Between 2011 and 2012, the pace of progress has slowed due to stalled funding for malaria interventions, and gains are fragile: a decade of work can be unraveled within a couple seasons—or faster—when there is a resurgence of malaria cases. The current global funding level for malaria is substantially less than what is needed to meet global targets.
There were several high disease burden countries for which reliable data was unavailable, pointing to the need to scale up data systems where the impact of malaria hits hardest. The panel at the launch underscored the need for continued innovation to battle resistance, improve drug efficacy, and one day add a vaccine to the arsenal of tools against malaria.
The panel also spoke about the inextricable link between malaria and poverty, and how efforts against malaria contributed to healthy communities and nations. “Mothers can feed their children better. Students learn better. Employees work better. In Africa, it is an economic and even a political issue, since people during election season want to know what their candidates will do about malaria,” remarked Dr. Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.
The major progress outlined in the report shows that we are well on our way to making malaria history, but only if we continue to build upon current efforts.
For more information:
Read the press release
Read the executive summary and key points
Read the fact sheet