The World Health Organisation issued a warning about malaria being more resilient to medical treatments. It lists other concerns, such as less effective insecticides and insufficient funding, affecting the results of the fight against the parasite.
About 3,2 billon people are exposed to malaria in the world today. This disease has disastrous consequences for public health and economic growth in the world’s poorest communities. It kills about half a million people every year – 91% of which live in sub-Saharan Africa. This has prompted the international community to join forces in fighting against this blood parasite. Prevention and treatments allowed for a drop up to 50% of both malaria prevalence and its mortality rate in some areas of the world. Between 2010 and 2015, the global malaria incidence rate (the number of people being infected by the disease every year) dropped by 21%.
However, in the 2017 World Malaria Report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the alarm bells over the state of the fight against the parasite. Firstly, about 445 000 people died because of malaria in 2016 – a disappointing result after many years of progress. But more importantly, the number of new cases registered in 2016 was higher by 5 million than in 2015. There are currently 216 million people infected with malaria in the world. “The number of people dying of malaria has failed to further reduce, it even increased in some regions of the world”, stated Abdisalan Noor, head of the surveillance team at the Global Malaria Program.
It is not like all the progress that was made disappeared from one day to the next. However, the situation has substantially worsened in a dozen of countries in Africa. According to the WHO, there are two main reasons behind this phenomenon: for one, “the international and national funding of the fight against malaria is not sufficient”. Robust financing for the research and development of new tools is equally critical.
Without foreign help, people living in a high-risk area don’t have access to tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria. In addition to that, the parasite is now more resilient to medical treatment. Another key issue is resistance to insecticides, notably pyrethroids used to stop the spread of malaria through mosquito populations – the main vector for malaria.