INCREASED funding is starting to pay off in the battle against malaria but prevention and treatment must be increased to try to halt the killer disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said recently.
The WHOâ€™s World Malaria Report 2009 found â€œsignificant progressâ€ in the delivery of mosquito nets and malaria drugs, thanks largely to an increase in funds to about $1.7b (sh3 trillion) in 2009 from $300million (sh6b).
But it said $5b (sh10 trillion) more was needed every year. â€œThe tremendous increase in funding for malaria control is resulting in the rapid scale up of todayâ€™s control tools,â€ WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in a statement. â€œThis is having a profound effect on health â€” especially the health of children in sub- Saharan Africa.â€
Around 40% of the worldâ€™s population is at risk of malaria. It kills more than a million people worldwide each year and children account for about 90 %of the deaths in the worst affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.
The fight against malaria has been slowed by resistance to chloroquine, the cheapest and most widely used malaria drug. Resistance to sulfadoxine- pyrimethamine, often seen as the first and least expensive alternative, is also increasing.
As a result, artemisinin combination therapy drugs, or ACTs â€” made by firms such as Novartis and Sanofi â€” Aventis â€“ are now regarded as the best medicines against malaria, but access to them is limited because they are expensive.
WHO 2009 MALARIA REPORT IN BRIEF
THE following are the key findings of the World Health Organisationâ€™s 2009 malaria report. The report summarises information received from 108 malaria endemic countries and from other relevant sources.
Funding commitments for malaria control increased from about $300 million (sh6b) in 2003 to $1.7b (sh3.4 trillion) in 2009.
This is still way short of the about $5b (sh10b) needed annually. Southeast Asia saw the least money per person at risk for malaria and the smallest increase between 2000 and 2007.
More African households now own an insecticide-treated net (ITNs) â€” 31% in 2008 compared to 17% in 2006. Household ITN ownership reached more than 50% in 13 high-burden African countries but the regional average is low because the resources for increasing coverage in several large African countries are only now being made available.
Around 24% of children under five were using ITNs in 2008 â€” an increase on recent years but still well below an international agreed target of 80%. The number of people protected by indoor insecticide spraying in Africa increased from less than 10 million in 2001 to 59 million in 2008.
Procurement of anti-malarial medicines increased sharplyfrom 2005 to 2008 and use of Artemisinin Combination Therapies is increasing but remains low in most African countries.
Fewer than 15% of children under five years of age with fever received ACTs in 11 of 13 countries surveyed in 2007/2008, well below the target of 80%.
Over a third of the 108 malaria endemic countries saw reductions in malaria cases of more than 50% in 2008. The number of cases fell least in countries with the highest incidence rates. Four high-burden African countries recorded decreases in malaria cases and deaths of more than 50%.
Large decreases in malaria cases and deaths are mirrored by steep declines in all-cause deaths among children under five. Malaria control could help many African countries reach globally-agreed targets of a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015.
Investment in malaria control pays off - WHO report