Lack of funds threat­ens malaria progress: WHO

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

LON­DON:

Global progress on con­trol­ling malaria risks stalling due to an “ur­gent need” for more fund­ing, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) warned in its an­nual re­port Tues­day.

Over­all, the num­ber of new cases fell by 21 per­cent be­tween 2010 and 2015, and mor­tal­ity rates fell by 29 per­cent — 31 per­cent in the African re­gion. But glob­ally there were still 212 mil­lion new cases and 429,000 deaths last year, and 43 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa were not pro­tected by treated nets or in­door spray­ing.

The WHO warned that “sus­tained and suf­fi­cient fund­ing for malaria con­trol is a se­ri­ous chal­lenge”, say­ing that af­ter a steep in­crease be­tween 2000 and 2010, in­vest­ment had “flat-lined”. “In 2015, malaria fund­ing to­taled $2.9 bil­lion, rep­re­sent­ing only 45 per­cent of the fund­ing mile­stone for 2020 ($6.4 bil­lion),” it said.

The United States pro­vided about 35 per­cent of all malaria fund­ing in 2015, while gov­ern­ments of coun­tries with malaria pro­vided about 32 per­cent, and Bri­tain pro­vided 16 per­cent. “We are def­i­nitely see­ing progress,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, di­rec­tor of the WHO Global Malaria Pro­gram, ahead of the re­port’s launch in Lon­don. “But the world is still strug­gling to achieve the high lev­els of pro­gram cov­er­age that are needed to beat this dis­ease.”

Re­sis­tance to anti-malar­ial drugs is also a chal­lenge, as is growing mos­quito re­sis­tance to in­sec­ti­cides, the re­port said. The WHO how­ever high­lighted im­prove­ments in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa over the past year in pro­vid­ing help for preg­nant women and chil­dren against malaria. “Malaria-re­lated deaths among chil­dren un­der five in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa are at their low­est point in his­tory,” said Ray Cham­bers, the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral’s spe­cial en­voy for malaria. “This is largely at­trib­ut­able to the nearly 500 mil­lion in­sec­ti­cide-treated bed nets de­liv­ered over the past three years, the high­est ever, along with sig­nif­i­cant ex­pan­sion of di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment.”

Deaths from malaria among the un­der fives glob­ally have fallen by 69 per­cent since 2000 to 303,000 last year.

Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa was home to 90 per­cent of global malar­ial cases and 92 per­cent of deaths. “We must now not grow com­pla­cent, but drive for­ward to end the epi­demic once and for all,” said Cham­bers. —AFP

CAIRNS, Queens­land, Aus­tralia: This hand­out photo from Robert Willemse taken on De­cem­ber 10, 2016 and re­ceived on De­cem­ber 13, 2016 shows a python wrestling with a wal­laby in the mid­dle of a fair­way on a golf course. —AFP

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