Medical Professionals Online

Malaria Program Providing Spectacular Global Results

September 30, 2017

The huge increase in malaria control programs since 2008 is starting to provide impressive results, says WHO (World Health Organization). 11 African countries where Malaria has been endemic have experienced reductions of more than 50% in confirmed malaria cases and/or admissions and deaths from the disease, compared to ten years ago.

The scaled-up malaria control drive has added protection to over 578 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. 75 million people have been protected as a result of indoor residual spraying.

WHO informs that a further 32 countries outside Africa where Malaria is endemic have reported reductions of at least 50% in confirmed cases compared to a decade ago; eight other countries report reductions of between 25% and 50%.

According to WHO, malaria has been eliminated from Morocco and Turkmenistan. Not one case of Plasmodium falciparum was reported in Europe in 2009 - this is the first time the whole continent has had a malaria-free year.

WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, said: "The results set out in this report are the best seen in decades. After so many years of deterioration and stagnation in the malaria situation, countries and their development partners are now on the offensive. Current strategies work." Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria, said: "The phenomenal expansion in access to malaria control interventions is translating directly into lives saved, as the WHO World malaria report 2010 clearly indicates. The strategic scale-up that is eroding malaria's influence is a critical step in the effort to combat poverty-related health threats. By maintaining these essential gains, we can end malaria deaths by 2015." Early in 2010 WHO advised all suspected malaria cases be diagnostically confirmed first, before administering antimalarial medications. Gone are the days when one could assume that a fever most likely points to a malaria diagnosis, WHO informs, even in areas where the disease has been common.

Cheap, accurate, and easy-to-use diagnostic tests are available today. These devices improve the quality of care for each patient, reduce cases of ACTs (artemisinin-based combination therapies) over-prescribing, and help stop the spread of drug resistance.

However, a resurgence of the disease has been reported in Zambia, Sao Tome and Principe and Rwanda. WHO is not sure why the malaria rate has increased in these countries. However, they illustrate the fragility of the current drive - intervention coverage needs to be maintained globally, and aggressively so.

WHO highlighted the following points: Although 2009 saw record malaria control commitments, reaching $1.5 billion, they have leveled off and dropped slightly this year to $1.8 billion. Estimated requirements for 2010 stand at $6 billion. Current funds fall short of this requirement. 42% of African homes had at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN) in 2010. 35% of children in Africa are using ITNs. In 19 African countries, over 50% of homes had ITNs. Although these are encouraging figures, WHO stresses there is still some way to go to reach the target of 80% of all children. Some of the larger African countries still have persistently low rates of ITN ownership. 35% of reported cases of malaria were the result of diagnostic tests in 2009, compared to 5% ten years beforehand. However, these rates are still much lower in Africa than other parts of the world. 11 countries in Africa provided enough ACT courses to cover 100% of malaria cases in the public sector. 5 African countries managed to cover at least 50%. In the year 2000, about 985,000 people were estimated to have died from malaria. In 2009, the number dropped to 781,000. The largest falls in malaria mortality rates were observed in Europe and the Americas. The largest fall in the total number of deaths occurred in Africa. Source: World Health Organization

"World Malaria Report 2010"