The latest World Malaria Report, published today by the World Health Organization, shows that malaria cases have increased for the second consecutive year, with an estimated 219 million cases globally in 2017 - a rise of more than 2.5 million.
Since 2000, significant progress has been made against malaria, but this year's report confirms that the world is off-track to achieving targets on reducing malaria deaths and disease by at least 40 percent by 2020, as outlined in WHO's Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for Malaria. Even though the number of deaths from malaria slightly decreased in 2017, a child still dies from malaria every two minutes.
Major coverage gaps for preventive interventions remain. While, encouragingly, an estimated 15.7 million eligible children received seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) in the Sahel in 2017, this still only represents 53 percent across the subregion. As a leading implementer of SMC, Malaria Consortium welcomes WHO's call for countries in the Sahel and their development partners to improve and sustain access to SMC, ensuring all children at risk of malaria receive the intervention.
In 2017, only 22 percent of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa received the recommended three or more doses of preventive malaria therapy. While this has increased slightly in recent years, uptake is still a major challenge.
"The latest data shows that the gap between pregnant women attending an antenatal clinic at least once [71 percent] and those receiving one dose of preventive therapy [54 percent] is vast. Governments and partners must do more to increase uptake of this life-saving intervention," said Dr James Tibenderana, Malaria Consortium Global Technical Director.
"We urgently need to increase access to and use of malaria diagnostics and treatments in order to achieve WHO's targets for malaria - and ultimately universal health coverage. Improving surveillance systems and ensuring we can target interventions to where they are most needed is a crucial part of the solution."
In response to the slowdown in progress in recent years, WHO and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership to End Malaria are launching 'High burden to high impact', an approach focused on high-burden countries that aims to jumpstart progress and get the response back on track.
Charles Nelson, Malaria Consortium Chief Executive, added, "It's clear that a focus on high burden countries is vital for driving down death and morbidity from malaria. A combination of both existing and new tools will be necessary and Malaria Consortium welcomes and supports the new initiative. We will continue to collaborate with governments and partners as we seek a well-targeted and coordinated health sector response to the malaria threat."