Malaria infected around 216 million people in 91 countries in 2016,
an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year, the WHO said
in its annual World Malaria Report. It killed 445,000 people, about
the same number as in 2015.
The vast majority of deaths were in children under the age of five
in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
"Globally ... after an unprecedented period of success, we are no
longer making progress," said Abdisalan Noor, a WHO expert on
malaria and lead author of the report. "I am concerned that we have
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that "in some
countries and regions, we are beginning to see reversals in the
Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria program, said
that partly due to funding, and partly due to governments shifting
focus away from malaria, the progress seen in the past decade is no
longer being sustained.
"We want (this to be) a wake-up call to the malaria community," he
told reporters on a teleconference. "We are not on track, and we
need to get back on track."
Overall funding for malaria has leveled off since 2010. In 2016, an
estimated $2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and
elimination efforts globally. In 2015, funding totaled $2.9 billion
- almost the same as in 2010.
The WHO says a minimum annual investment of $6.5 billion is needed
by 2020 to meet targets on controlling malaria by 2030.
The WHO report found that when analyzed on a country-by-country per
capita basis, funding in countries where there is a high threat of
malaria has fallen to an average of less than $2 per year per person
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Noor said that alongside stagnating funding, the report found
"equally concerning" gaps in access to and use of vital malaria
prevention, diagnostic and treatment tools such as bed nets, indoor
spraying and primary healthcare.
Fewer than half of households in countries in sub-Saharan Africa
have enough bed nets to protect against mosquito bites, and only
about a third of children in Africa with a fever have access to free
public health sector medical care.
Tedros, who spent many years as a government minister fighting
malaria in Ethiopia before coming to the WHO, said it would take
robust financial resources and political leadership to swing the
pendulum back towards a malaria-free world
"We are up against a tough adversary. But I am also convinced that
this is a winnable battle," he said.
(Editing by Alison Williams and William Maclean)
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