Malaria death rate has plunged by 60 per cent since 2000, translating into 6.2 million lives, mainly children saved, a joint World Health Organisation and UNICEF report released on Thursday has said.
The report, which was made available to newsmen in Lagos, was entitled, “Achieving the Malaria Millennium Development Goal Target.’’
It shows that the malaria MDG target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria by 2015 has been met “convincingly,’’ with new malaria cases dropping by 37 per cent in 15 years.
The report said that between 2000 and 2015, the under-5 malaria death rate fell by 65 per cent or estimated 5.9 million children lives saved.
“Malaria kills mostly young children, especially those living in the poorest and most remote places.
“So, the best way to celebrate global progress in the fight against it is to recommit ourselves to reaching and treating them.
“We know how to prevent and treat malaria. Since we can do it, we must,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake.
The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, said, “Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years.
“It is a sign that our strategies are on target and that we can beat this ancient killer which still claims hundreds of thousands of lives, mostly children, each year.’’
The report said that countries were on the verge of eliminating malaria.
“In 2014, 13 countries reported zero cases of the disease and six countries reported fewer than 10 cases.
“The fastest decreases were seen in the Caucasus and Central Asia, which reported zero cases in 2014, and in Eastern Asia,’’ the report said.
It said that despite tremendous progress, malaria remains an acute public health problem in many regions.
“In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria, and approximately 438,000 people died of this preventable and treatable disease.
“About 3.2 billion people- almost half of the world’s population- are at risk of malaria.
“Some countries continue to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden.
“Fifteen countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for 80 per cent of malaria cases and 78 per cent of deaths globally in 2015,’’ the report said.
It said that children under five account for more than two-thirds of all deaths associated with malaria.
The report also said that the global bi-lateral and multi-lateral funding for malaria had increased 20-fold since 2000.
It added that domestic investments within malaria-affected countries have also increased year by year.
“A number of donor governments have made the fight against malaria a high global health priority.
“In the United States of America, the President’s Malaria Initiatives have mobilised hundreds of millions of dollars for treatment and prevention.
“The government of the United Kingdom tripled its funding for malaria control between 2008 and 2015.
“Many governments have also channelled their investments through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria directly,’’ the report said.
It quoted Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, as saying, “A healthy, prosperous world is in all our interests.
“The prevention of deadly diseases is one of the smartest investments we can make.
“That is why working with malaria-affected countries and partners, like the Global Fund, Britain will continue to provide bed nets to millions, tackle resistance to life saving medicines and insecticides, and boost health systems across Africa.”
According to the report, the surge in funding has led to an unprecedented expansion in the delivery of core interventions across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Since 2000, approximately one billion Insecticide-Treated Nets have been distributed in Africa.
“The increased use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests has made it easier to distinguish between malaria and non-malaria fevers, enabling timely and appropriate treatment.
“Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies are highly effective against Plasmodium falciparum, the most prevalent and lethal malaria parasite affecting humans, but drug resistance is a looming threat which must be prevented.’’