Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its World Malaria Report 2013, detailing the incredible progress the world has made against malaria. The report also offers a warning: to truly defeat the disease, we cannot afford to let our guard down.
According to the WHO report, global malaria mortality rates have fallen by 45 percent since 2000. This figure demonstrates headway toward reaching the World Health Assembly target of reducing malaria deaths by 75 percent by 2015.
Dramatic increases in international financing – from USD$100 million in 2000 to $1.97 billion in 2013 – have led to remarkable expansions of malaria prevention and treatment. For example, the percentage of households owning at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 3 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2013.
Yet “progress is no cause for complacency,” as WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. An estimated 3.4 billion people remain at risk of contracting malaria. Most saddening, malaria killed more than 600,000 people in 2012, most of them children under five years of age. One child’s life is claimed by malaria almost every minute.
There is also worrying evidence that progress against malaria is slowing. Of particular concern is emerging resistance to drugs in Southeast Asia, and resistance to insecticides in malaria parasites found in Africa.
New approaches to fighting malaria would include screening and treatment for individuals infected with parasites, including those who do not show symptoms yet remain a source of transmission. Exciting scientific advances – including the development of better drugs and prevention tools - are making it increasingly more feasible and cost-effective to implement this approach and help eliminate the risk of malaria across the globe.
Efforts made toward fighting malaria have saved millions of lives, yet malaria remains one of the world’s deadliest killers. The foundation is committed to working with partners to expand access to lifesaving prevention and treatment, and to promoting innovative strategies that will accelerate us toward eradication.