World Malaria Day 2016

End malaria for good

 

Each year, WHO and partners unite around a common World Malaria Day theme. This year’s theme “End malaria for good” reflects the vision of a malaria-free world set out in the “Global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030”. Adopted in May 2015 by the World Health Assembly, the strategy aims to dramatically lower the global malariaburden over the next 15 years. Its goals are ambitious but attainable:

reducing the rate of new malaria cases by at least 90%

reducing malaria death rates by at least 90%

eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries

preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free

The timeline of 2016-2030 is aligned with the “2030 Agenda for sustainable development”, the new global development framework endorsed by all UN Member States.

According to WHO’s “World malaria report 2015”, there has been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since 2000. Progress was made possible through the massive expansion of effective tools to prevent and treat malaria, such as insecticide- treated mosquito nets, diagnostic testing and anti-malarial medicines.

Significant challenges remain however: globally, about 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Millions of people are still not accessing the services they need to prevent and treat malaria.

World Malaria Day offers an annual opportunity to highlight advances in malaria control and to commit to continued investment and action to accelerate progress against this deadly disease. To achieve the targets of the “Global technical strategy” annual investment for malaria control will need to triple from current levels, reaching US$8.7 billion annually by 2030.

Malaria in Yemen

WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan and Yemen’s Minister of Public Health and Population Dr Nasir Baoum met in the WHO Regional Office in Cairo recently to discuss the health situation in Yemen, focusing on the spread of malaria in the country and WHO’s scaled-up response.

Malaria is endemic in Yemen, with more than 78,336 suspected cases and 31,791 laboratory-confirmed cases reported in 2015. However, these figures could be much higher as they only represent cases detected by sentinel sites included in the disease early warning system. More than 78% of Yemen’s population lives in at-risk areas, with 25% living in high-risk areas. Limited access to clean water and sanitation has significantly increased the risk of infectious diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria further spreading.

With a number of challenges preventing an effective and timely response, the risk of an epidemic is high: fuel shortages and the consequent increasing cost of fuel have created difficulties in transporting medicines and medical supplies. Shortages of health workers are also affecting the functionality of health facilities and preventing the delivery of health services.

“I am extremely concerned about the increasing number of malaria cases in Yemen, especially among internally displaced persons who need increased protection,” said Dr Alwan. “The violence has led to a number of challenges in the delivery of vector control and surveillance services. Our main priority now is to make sure that we can prevent an epidemic before it is too late.”

WHO continues to support insecticide spraying interventions in houses as a control measure for both dengue and malaria in Al-Hudaydah, Abyan, Aden, Taiz, Hadramout, Shabwah and Al- Mahra. Last month, a boat carrying 103 tonnes of anti-malarial medicines, trauma kits, interagency emergency health kits, and diarrhoeal diseases kits arrived in Aden port. These supplies were distributed by WHO and the Ministry of Health and Population to health facilities in 11 governorates, including Abyan, Aden, Shabwa, Hadramout, Marib and Al Jouf governorates, as well as Taiz City.

Increasing immunization coverage, especially in hard-to-reach areas, was key topic also discussed during the meeting in Cairo. Although the overall vaccination coverage rate in the country has not significantly decreased from pre-crisis levels, coverage rates in some affected districts are less than 50%. One of the main challenges facing health staff is a lack of fuel to maintain the cold chain for vaccines. To help ensure a functional cold chain, WHO has provided 162 refrigerators to the Expanded Programme on Immunization office in Sana’a. WHO has also provided substantial funding to cover the cost of fuel for the cold chain to ensure the potency of vaccines.

Vaccines against malaria

There are currently no licensed vaccines against malaria. One research vaccine against P. falciparum, known as RTS, S/AS01, is most advanced. This vaccine has been evaluated in a large clinical trial in 7 countries in Africa and received a positive opinion by the European Medicines Agency in July 2015.

In October 2015, 2 WHO advisory groups recommended pilot implementations of RTS,S in a limited number of African countries. These pilot projects could pave the way for wider deployment of the vaccine in 3 to 5 years, if safety and effectiveness are considered acceptable.

Date of upload: 15th May 2016

 

                                  
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