News

Global Fund Urges the World to Boost the Fight Against Malaria as COVID-19 Disruptions, Drug and Insecticide Resistance and New Threats Endanger Progress

25 April 2022

  • Malaria cases are on the rise again mainly due to plateauing funds, stalled progress and the impact of COVID-19. Climate change and global transport threaten to push malaria-carrying mosquitos to previously unaffected areas and drug and insecticide resistance are increasing.
  • New tools – including more effective mosquito nets treated with a combination of insecticides – open up a new frontier in the fight against malaria and bring hope.
  • A fully replenished Global Fund will enable the world to cut malaria deaths by 62%, reduce malaria cases by 66%, and eliminate malaria from an additional six countries by 2026.

GENEVA – Ahead of World Malaria Day, 25 April, the Global Fund calls for renewed commitment in the fight against malaria, a disease that now kills one child every minute. After years of steady declines, malaria cases and deaths are on the rise mainly due to stalled funding and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69,000 more deaths. Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths were linked to COVID-19 disruptions.

In addition, climate change-related fluctuations in rainfall, temperature and humidity may shift malaria transmission to areas that may not be adequately resourced or prepared to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. Invasive malaria-carrying mosquito species are spreading to new countries via freight traffic.

“More than ever before, the Global Fund needs to support countries in their efforts to revitalize and sustain the fight against malaria,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “We must seek to provide better and more equitable access to all health services, vastly increase funding for malaria programs, invest in new approaches and innovations and make better use of existing tools. This year, with the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment conference, the world has an opportunity to invest more to protect our hard-won gains against malaria and get back on track to end the disease by 2030. This will save millions of lives – the vast majority of them children under 5.”

Harnessing and accelerating innovative solutions

The Global Fund’s commitment to introducing and expanding the delivery of new tools has helped  transform the fight against malaria. Innovative approaches to partnerships, financing, and catalytic investments – which include the rapid introduction, scale-up, and targeted delivery of new malaria interventions, improved supply chains, and stronger surveillance and lab capacity – have helped reduce malaria deaths rates by 47% since 2002.

In the fight against malaria, we need both new tools – such as the next-generation insecticide-treated nets and the new malaria vaccine – and expanded use of other core malaria prevention tools such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention to protect children under 5 and mosquito net distributions. Together with partners, the Global Fund has invested in new tools, bringing additional strength – and hope – in the fight against the disease.

  • New insecticide-treated mosquito nets: The Global Fund is investing US$50 million from 2021 to 2024 to introduce new insecticide-treated nets to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes that have become resistant to traditional insecticides. A new generation of mosquito nets has reduced malaria cases in children under 5 by almost half in a large pilot program in Tanzania, according to a new study published by The Lancet. The nets are treated with two insecticides and can kill mosquitos that are resistant to one of the two insecticides.
  • More sophisticated programming and precise targeting of malaria interventions: The Global fund is supporting countries to adopt a tailored, sub-national approach that reaches populations with an appropriate mix of interventions and strategies, guided by robust data and building local capacity to interpret and act accordingly. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, changes to how we distribute mosquito nets in rural communities not only ensured distributions continued despite lockdowns, but we actually reached more vulnerable families than in previous years.
  • Leveraging economies of scale: Through leveraging economies of scale, working with partners and negotiating directly with manufacturers, the Global Fund helped reduce the cost of an insecticide-treated mosquito net by 36% and the average cost of artemisinin-based combination (ACT) therapies by 39% between 2014 and 2020. Savings generated through the reduction in treatment costs alone enabled to provide more than 59.8 million additional antimalarial treatments.

Mobilizing more resources

The Global Fund provides 56% of all international financing for malaria programs (39% of total available resources) and has invested more than US$16 billion in malaria control programs to date.

In countries where the Global Fund invests, malaria deaths have dropped by 26% between 2002 and 2020. In the absence of malaria control measures, deaths would have increased by 84% in the same period. Malaria death rates – deaths as a proportion of the population – have dropped by 47% between 2002 and 2020. 

From January 2021, the Global Fund has increased malaria grants by 23% on average and is committed to deploying about US$4 billion to fight the disease over the next three years.

U.S. President Joe Biden will host the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment conference later this year. The Global Fund’s target is to raise at least US$18 billion to fund its next three-year cycle of grants. A successful Replenishment would save 20 million lives, cut the death rate from HIV, TB and malaria by 64% and strengthen systems for health to build a healthier, more equitable world. In the fight against malaria, a successful Replenishment would cut malaria deaths by 62%, reduce malaria cases by 66%, and eliminate malaria from an additional six countries by 2026.