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By: Margaret Reilly McDonnell

2018 World Malaria Report: The Takeaways

December 18 2018

What You Need to Know About This Year’s World Malaria Report

The global malaria community has been at a crossroads in 2017 – while more countries than ever are approaching elimination, many countries have seen malaria cases increase, or stay flat compared to last year.

Alarm bells rang, but the good news is that the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2018 World Malaria Report shows a path forward to the day where we see a world without malaria.

At Nothing But Nets we are proud of our donors, champions, and supporters who join us in the fight to make sure no child dies from a mosquito bite. To see that day, we must stay informed and be prepared to raise our voices, together. Here’s what you need to know:

The Highlights

  1. If we take a longer view, we have made remarkable progress. Since 2000, countries and their development partners have dramatically reduced the total number of malaria cases and deaths. Thanks to global partnership efforts, deaths from malaria have been cut by more than 60 percent compared to the highest points of the malaria crisis in the early 2000s, saving 7 million lives.

  2. Last year, 46 countries - almost half of all malaria-affected countries - reported fewer than 10,000 malaria cases. And in June, Paraguay became the first country in the Americas to eliminate malaria in 45 years! In fact, 11 countries are on track for elimination in the next 2 years.

  3. We know progress is possible – but it’s also at risk. Malaria is creeping back in some of the highest-burden areas. In 2017, the 10 highest burden countries in Africa reported a combined increase of 3.5 million cases over the previous year.

  4. Deaths from malaria continue to stagnate, declining at far slower rates than over the past decade. More insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed last year than at any time in history, but coverage remains suboptimal. In 2017, only half the population at risk of malaria in Africa were sleeping under bed nets.

  5. Surveillance and reporting are improving but are not at strong enough levels to effectively find and track all cases of malaria. The growing use of rapid diagnostic tests to increase appropriate and early treatment has been a game changer, but we still need new tools to further transform the fight.

  6. There is no standing still with malaria. We must move quickly to step up efforts and continue progress for all countries toward ending malaria for good. Fortunately, there has never been a better time to invest in malaria.

The Path Forward

The World Malaria Report shows that although funding for malaria has remained relatively stable since 2010, the level of investment in 2017 is far from what is required to reach global malaria targets. We know investing in malaria is a development “best buy” – healthy communities equal prosperous economies. And recent improvements in supply chain efficiency and reduction in costs of medicines and diagnostics mean every dollar invested in malaria goes further than ever before.

Programs like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GF) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) are absolutely critical. The Global Fund represents nearly 60% of all external assistance for malaria, and around 40% of total global spending on malaria. A successful replenishment of the Global Fund in 2019 is absolutely critical for the achievement of SDG 3, Good Health & Well Being – and our champions’ advocacy efforts for U.S. support of PMI and GF are more important than ever.

Approximately 70% of the world’s malaria burden is concentrated in 11 countries – 10 in sub-Saharan Africa and India. These high-burden nations are home to an estimated 151 million cases of malaria and 275,000 deaths in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.

To change course and improve how to combat malaria, these countries – with support from global partners– are taking new action to reignite progress in the malaria fight. Together, they are committed to reducing the burden of malaria and getting the global malaria effort back on track.

The “High Burden to High Impact: A Targeted Malaria Response” – launched alongside the WHO World Malaria Report 2018, will reignite progress in the malaria fight.

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the new approach will turn the tide in the fight against malaria. This new, country-led approach is founded upon the following pillars:

  1. Strengthening country leadership and stepping up domestic financing.

  2. Relying on the best and shared data that moves efforts from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

  3. Empowering countries with better guidance, policies and strategies.

  4. Improving effectiveness of partner support via a coordinated country response.

Success in the highest burden countries will translate into success globally. Through collective action – and with countries leading the way – we can achieve our common vision of a malaria-free world.

The Ways YOU Can Help!

It’s unacceptable that people in half the world’s countries are nearing a life free of malaria while the other half still fear death by mosquito bite. As long as this imbalance persists, there is a risk that malaria will spread and put all countries at risk.

With more than 400,000 people projected to die from this preventable disease every year, the actions we take now will determine whether we will be the generation to end malaria. That’s why our donors and champions are more important than ever.

In 2019, we will continue and expand our work to protect vulnerable families living in the world’s most dangerous and hard-to-reach communities, including those where the burden of malaria is highest, such as in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And we’re proud of the expansion of our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, where we are working in close partnership to achieve elimination in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador, while also supporting the efforts of UN partners working in Venezuela, where a breakdown of the country’s health system due to political and economic turmoil has caused a significant surge of malaria cases.

We must continue to call on leaders across government, business, science, civil society, and beyond to realize commitments and innovation to accelerate progress once again. Now is the time to raise your voice in the fight to end malaria. Become a champion today!

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