The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched an action plan to reduce global rates of infections and deaths from malaria, especially in Nigeria and 10 other countries.
WHO said in the 2018 World Malaria Report, that targets to reduce global rates of infections and deaths from malaria were not being met.
The UN health agency said around 70 per cent of all deaths in 2017 was concentrated in 10 African countries and India.
The 10 African countries are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda and Tanzania.
India – which represents four per cent of the global malaria burden – showed progress in reducing the disease (a drop of almost a quarter).
However, cases in the African countries rose by 3.5 million in 2017, compared to the previous year.
The study revealed that while new cases fell steadily up until 2016, the number rose from 217 million to 219 million in 2017.
The targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030 called for a drop in malaria case incidence and death rates of at least 40 per cent by 2020.
In response, WHO and its partners have launched a country-led ‘high burden to high impact’ response plan – to coincide with the release of the 2018 world malaria report.
The response plan aims to scale up prevention, treatment and investment to protect vulnerable people, and get reductions in malaria deaths and disease back on track.
The plan builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be easily prevented, diagnosed and is entirely curable with available treatments.
“The world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease.
“We recognise we have to do something different now,” said WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus.
A positive note was struck in Paraguay, which has in 2018 been certified as malaria free, the first country in the Americas to receive this status in 45 years.
The number of countries nearing elimination has now grown from 37 to 46, and three countries – Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan – have requested official malaria-free certification from WHO.
Domestic financing has been identified as key to the success of the WHO’s malaria strategy, the UN health agency said.
According to WHO, funding has leveled off, and needs to reach at least $6.6 billion annually by 2020, more than double the amount available today.