About 70 percent of all malaria cases and deaths recorded in 2017 occurred in Nigeria and 10 other countries, the 2018 World Malaria Report has revealed.
The annual report which is produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and launched on Monday in Maputo, Mozambique said malaria hit hardest in India and 10 African countries in 2017.
The 151 million malaria cases and 274,000 deaths recorded in 2017 were concentrated in the 11 countries, the report said.
The ten African countries affected are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.
A statement from WHO headquarters said the report revealed that there were 3.5 million more malaria cases reported in these 10 African countries in 2017 compared to the previous year, while India, however, showed progress in reducing its disease burden.
According to the new report, reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally.
To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have joined a new country-led response, launched to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.
The new country-driven "High burden to high impact" response plan was launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths.
The response follows a call made by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria
"For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before.
"But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015," the WHO statement said .
The report revealed that in 2017, an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net.
Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before, and access to preventive therapies that protect pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease.
"We recognise we have to do something different - now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most - at local level."
The report also highlights some positive progress. The number of countries nearing elimination continues to grow (46 in 2017 compared to 37 in 2010). Meanwhile, in China and El Salvador, where malaria had long been endemic, no local transmission of malaria was reported in 2017, proof that intensive, country-led control efforts can succeed in reducing the risk people face from the disease.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said: "when countries prioritize action on malaria, we see the results in lives saved and cases reduced."