There’s good reason to be optimistic about the fight against malaria. The number of deaths caused by malaria globally declined 50 percent between 2000 and 2015 – that translates to an estimated 6.8 million deaths averted. The number of malaria cases has also declined rapidly, resulting in 1.3 billion cases averted.
Yet these achievements come at a time when drug-resistant malaria is a growing menace across the Greater Mekong region. Such drug resistance poses a major threat to global health security. This is why the Global Fund’s Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative (RAI) is investing to achieve something incredible – the elimination of the most dangerous type of malaria from five countries by 2025.
Dr. Arjen Dondorp, Professor of Tropical Medicine in Oxford and Deputy Director of the Mahidol Oxford Clinical Research Unit in Thailand, chairs the RAI steering committee. He says despite the general downward trend for malaria, antimalarial drug resistance is getting worse quickly, and fitter malaria strains are spreading “like wildfire.” As countries whittle down the areas and populations affected by malaria, only the strongest parasites can hold out. Failing to eliminate malaria quickly could allow these difficult-to-treat, resistant strains to cause a resurgence.
Through RAI, the Global Fund is supporting an international partnership to save lives and safeguard global health by wiping out an age-old killer.