A city worker fumigates the area to prevent the spread of mosquitoes at a university in Bangkok
(Copyright Reuters 2016)
LONDON – Funding shortages and fragile health systems undermine the progress in the fight against malaria and could jeopardize efforts to globally agreed goals on the way to the eventual elimination of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
Publishing its annual report about how the world is tackling the often fatal mosquito-borne disease, WHO said, the realization of a sustainable and adequate resources for the control of malaria was becoming a serious problem.
Despite a sharp increase in global investment for malaria between 2000 and 2010 the grant has since flatlined, the WHO said, and in 2015 a total of $ 2.9 billion, almost the same as in 2010.
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And while the number of deaths from the disease have fallen dramatically in the past 15 years – since 2000 malaria deaths in Africa have dropped by 62 percent) to 429,000 in 2015, there are large gaps in the progress, with the poorest faring the worst.
Sub-Saharan Africa bears a disproportionate share of the global malaria burden, and last year was the home for 90 percent of the malaria cases and 92 percent of the deaths due to malaria.
“We still have a child dying of malaria every two minutes,” said Richard Cibulskis, coordinator of the WHO’s malaria strategy, the evidence and the economics unit. “And at the same time, the funding for malaria has stagnated.”
Global health specialists say that the money that is needed to sustain progress in the fight against malaria is $3.8 billion in 2016, and increasing each year to reach $6.4 billion in 2020.
The WHO report showed that last year’s $2.9 billion, the governments of malaria-endemic countries, which is about 32 percent, with the rest of the international donors.
Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO global malaria program, said that if global goals are to be achieved, the financing of both the domestic and international sources “to increase substantially”.
The United States and great Britain are the largest international malaria funders, accounting for 35 and 16 percent, respectively, by 2015 the total.
The report also found worrying gaps in the use of vital importance for the malaria control tools such as bednets or indoor spraying.
In 2015, an estimated 43 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa was not protected by one of these, and in many countries, health systems are underresourced and are not accessible for people who become infected with malaria.