The World Health Organization has just released its latest World Malaria Report, a comprehensive update covering the current status of malaria in 97 at risk countries, as well as current developments in treatment, vector control and prevention. Of major significance are:
1. Since the year 2000, mortality decreased by 47%worldwide and 54% in the WHO Africa Region
2. 49% of at risk population in sub-Saharan Africa have access to an insecticide treated bed net. 90% of people were using the nets available to them.
Many factors have contributed to the decreased mortality and incidence of malaria:
1. The increased distribution and use of insecticide treated bed nets (ITN)s
2. Greater availability of artemisinin combined therapy (ACT) in public health clinics
3. For the first time, in 2013 a majority of pregnant women received at least one dose of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxime-pyrimethamine during their pregnancy.
4. Trials of intermittent preventive treatment of infants during peak risk seasons have successfully reduced mortality and incidence of malaria in young children.
Though these gains are encouraging, many obstacles threaten future progress:
1. Funding from all sources has fallen short, estimated to be half of the $5.1 billion that will be needed to carry on the fight against malaria.
2. Resistance both to insecticides and antimalarial drugs has continued to increase
3. Progress in malaria control has been severely hampered in West Africa by the current Ebola epidemic, which has killed hundreds of health workers and overwhelmed health systems in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
4. Reliance on indoor residual spraying, (IRS), has been shown to be relatively ineffective and cannot be relied on either for vector control or breaking the malaria cycle.
As United Methodists we should be proud of the success of our Imagine NO Malaria Campaign, and continue our support until Malaria is eliminated from the face of the earth.
1. WHO World Malaria Report 2014, World Health Organization
2. Is Malaria Control better with both treated nets and spraying, Lancet Online, Dec, 2014.
Contributed by RogerBoe MD