News: Urgent Action Needed to Protect Gains Against Malaria

Alyssa GovindanNews, Newsletter

After years of improvement in malaria reduction around the globe, the 2017 World Malaria Report shows that progress has reached a stand-still. There were 5 million more cases in 2016 than 2015 and deaths stood at 445,000 – around the same number as the previous year.

“Without urgent action, we risk going backwards and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond” said Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the WHO.

Meeting global malaria targets will only be possible through greater investment and expanded coverage of core tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria. Effective malaria prevention and treatment requires a combination of vector control (nets, spraying), reliable diagnosis, quality-assured treatment and patient adherence.

  • Failure to control mosquitos in endemic regions leads to increased risk of infection. Globally, IRS (indoor residual spraying) rates declined from 5.8% to 2.9% since 2010 and 35 million people in Africa lost coverage; and
  • Failure of reliable diagnosis, quality-assured treatment and/or patient adherence can turn a mild case of malaria into a life threatening one, particularly for children. Surveys from Africa indicate that 39% of children seeking care for fever from a public provider did not receive any medical attention at all. Lack of adherence, may also lead to a latent infection – the patient no longer feels sick, but the disease is allowed to recirculate through bites and infect neighbors.

The African Union has recently launched a continent-wide campaign for a malaria free Africa called “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” to address some of these issues.

While the vast majority of deaths from malaria still occur in Africa, Southeast Asia continues to experience a rise in drug resistant strains. Chloroquine resistance started in Western Cambodia in the early 1950s before making its way across India and into Africa, causing malaria deaths to rise significantly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and Mefloquine then failed there in the 1960s and 1970s. Recently, malaria infection rates in Northeast Cambodia have been on the rise. Delays in treatment are partially to blame. However, public officials have also noted an alarming decline in the potency of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) – the gold standard for malaria drugs.

The risks of artemisinin resistance and the sobering numbers related to prevention and treatment expansion in affected regions have led some observers to call malaria a ticking time bomb. GBCHealth is doing its part to mobilize a coordinated business response to this threat.

On World Mosquito Day (August 20th) the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) along with its technical partners and key influencers will leverage social media, print and radio to disseminate an emotive campaign to educate highly-burdened African countries on malaria prevention and management. Through this campaign, CAMA seeks to increase knowledge on transmission of malaria particularly in pregnancy, promote use of long-lasting insecticide treated nets and good environmental health practices, encourage people to test before treating malaria and advocate for increased investment in malaria focused interventions.

Alyssa GovindanNews: Urgent Action Needed to Protect Gains Against Malaria