Africa is on track to squash malaria

With increasing effort, focused action and awareness towards tackling malaria across the continent, significant progress has been recorded. So far, three African countries have been declared malaria free; Mauritius in 1973, Morocco in 2010 and most recently Algeria in 2019. Also, between 2007 and 2017, up to 27 African countries have recorded reducing number of malaria cases per 1,000 population.

No doubt, malaria remains a serious challenge across the continent, with 90% of malaria cases occurring in Africa, but the declining number of cases raises optimism that it will be defeated effectively.

Ivory Coast and Malawi have had the biggest drop in cases per 1,000 population since 2007, and with the pilot phase of the world’s first malaria vaccine launched in Malawi last year, it may not be long before Malawi could be certified malaria free as well.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), In 2017, an estimated US$ 3.1 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally by governments of malaria endemic countries and international partners – an amount slighter higher than the figure reported for 2016. Nearly three quarters (US$ 2.2 billion) of investments in 2017 were spent in the WHO African Region.

More action and funding are needed for Africa to reduce the volume of malaria cases but to achieve this reduction, it is critical to scale up vector control rapidly. History has shown that taking an untargeted, incremental approach to strengthening health systems in isolation, will fail to yield solid improvements in health outcomes. Malaria-endemic countries urgently need significant amounts of financing and operational support to (i) increase vector control to levels that will reduce both transmission and the number of cases, and (ii) strengthen the capacity of health systems to provide key services, particularly at decentralized levels.

According to the World Bank’s book on intensifying the fight against malaria, no single malaria control measure is sufficient to reduce malaria in any given setting. However, when an entire package of locally appropriate interventions reaches a sufficient level of coverage, then it should be possible to reduce the burden of malaria.

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