18 December 2012

Africa: Malaria Funding Falls Short By Half

2012 World Malaria Report calls for sustained support

During the past decade, an estimated 1.1 million malaria deaths were averted, primarily as a result of a scale-up of malaria interventions. Yet malaria continues to take the life on an African child every minute of every day.

According to the WHO an estimated US$ 5.1 billion will be needed every year between 2011 and 2020 to achieve universal access to malaria interventions. At present, only US$ 2.3 billion is available, less than half of that required. The newly released World Malaria Report (WMR 2012) emphasises the urgent need to identify new funding sources to further scale up and sustain malaria control efforts, and to protect the investments and gains to malaria control made in the last decade.

"...we must act with urgency and determination to keep this tremendous progress from slipping out of our grasp," stated Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, in her foreword to the WMR 2012.

We are now just 3 years away from the target date set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). WMR 2012 reports that 50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria case incidence by 75%, but these countries only account for 3% of the burden. The ambitious targets set by the MDGs will not be met unless considerable progress is made in the 14 highest burden countries, which account for 80% of malaria deaths.

While current tools remain remarkably effective in most settings, resistance to artemisinin derivatives - the key compounds in artemisinin-based combination therapies - has emerged as a new challenge and has been detected in four countries in South-East Asia. A new generation of antimalarials that can be alternatives to artemisinin need to be developed urgently.

"The World Malaria Report serves to document the significant progress the community has made in reducing the burden of malaria," said David Reddy, MMV's CEO. "Even more importantly, it serves as a stark reminder of the huge challenges that remain. MMV is determined to ensure that next-generation antimalarials are developed to contribute to the elimination of malaria."

MMV recognises the WHO's call for continued and increased funding if we are to defeat this disease. It is only thanks to the continued support from our donors and partners that MMV has been able to bring forward four new antimalarials that have already helped save thousands of young lives; without it progress will grind to a halt.

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