World Malaria Day 2016

The fight against malaria is one of the most inspiring success stories of the 21st century. Partnership, political commitment and smart and effective investments have cut malaria deaths by 60 percent since 2000, saving millions of lives and transforming communities.

Scientific advances, the expansion of malaria diagnostic testing and other innovative solutions are pushing back malaria worldwide and reaching those most at risk, particularly children under the age of five.

Over half of international funding for fighting malaria comes through the Global Fund, which supports a comprehensive approach that combines distributing mosquito nets, spraying homes and providing rapid testing, anti-malaria drugs and education.

Spray Operators on the Front Lines Against Malaria in Zimbabwe

Before the rainy reason, Soneni dons her protective yellow suit, straps an insecticide pump on her back and joins one of Zimbabwe’s Spray Operator teams. By spraying homes in high-risk areas, distributing mosquito nets and providing effective medicines to treat malaria, Zimbabwe has sharply reduced the number of people falling ill or dying of the disease. In some countries, efforts are being made to include more women like Soneni, as studies show that women are especially effective as spray operators, and are refused entry to homes less often.

In sub-Saharan Africa, which shoulders the heaviest malaria burden, progress has been impressive. Malaria is no longer the leading cause of death of African children. More than half the population at risk is now sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, compared to just 2 percent in 2000. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite suffering years of conflict, malaria deaths have fallen by 72 percent between 2000 and 2014 – mainly due to the mass distribution of mosquito nets, a cheap, effective tool that keeps families safe. In Nigeria, another country with many challenges and with a huge disease burden, deaths from the disease dropped by 62 percent.

Impact against malaria has also been significant in Asia. In Pakistan for example, malaria death and malaria incidence rates have fallen by 73 percent and 72 percent respectively. Better data and monitoring, closer case management and the use of innovate approaches such as mass drug administration in “hot spots” in hard-to-reach areas have reduced malaria deaths in Myanmar to 92 in 2014, from 2,634 in 2002.

New procurement approaches have achieved substantial cost savings for partners and brought down the price of a mosquito net to US$3 – a 30 percent drop from just a few years ago.

But we can’t stop now. Malaria remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases, straining economies and health care systems in endemic countries. Defeating malaria is critical to improving maternal and child health and to ending poverty. Healthier communities mean children don’t miss days of school due to illness, and more productive workers. A malaria-free world would enable millions of people to reach their full potential and make the world a better and safer place.

On World Malaria Day, the Global Fund partnership celebrates the collective progress and calls on the global community to finish the job. Through sustained investments, shared responsibility and continued innovation, the world has an opportunity to end malaria as a major public health threat by 2030. Let’s end malaria for good.

Scoring for Global Health

Growing up in the disadvantaged districts of Douala, Cameroon, I learnt to count on my mates to navigate the rugged streets where we played football. Among these friends, I found comradeship and compassion.

Among the adults, however, I found guidance, mentorship, support and sometimes some spanking for disobedience. The circumstances of my upbringing give real meaning to the adage "it takes a village."

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Learn more about malaria.

Malaria

Published 25 April 2016