A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report has unveiled a critical setback in the global fight against malaria, with cases surging by approximately 5 million year-on-year in 2022. The findings indicate a failure to meet global targets set to contain the disease, emphasizing the urgent need for action.
The report identifies pandemic-related disruptions and climate change-induced extreme weather events as significant challenges to malaria control efforts. Progress since 2015 has stagnated due to escalating drug and insecticide resistance, conflicts, and now, the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, warned of the increasing risk of losing the battle against malaria. He emphasized that progress has not only halted but, in some regions, is reversing. Without immediate action, hard-won gains over the past two decades are at risk of being wiped out.
In 2022, an estimated 249 million malaria cases were reported globally, exceeding the WHO’s target of 26.2 cases per 1,000 people at risk by 2025. Areas experiencing extreme weather conditions witnessed a surge in cases, exemplified by a five-fold increase in malaria cases in flood-affected Pakistan.
Despite a steady decline in malaria deaths from 2000 to 2019, the pandemic led to a reversal, causing an estimated 608,000 deaths in 2022, predominantly among young children. The report underscores the significance of addressing these challenges promptly.
While the advent of two new malaria vaccines in the coming year brings hope, the report highlights a substantial funding gap in the global response. With $4.1 billion invested in 2022, the report indicates a need for approximately $7.8 billion to effectively combat the escalating malaria crisis. The international community must unite to bridge this funding gap and implement comprehensive strategies to safeguard against the resurgence of malaria and protect the progress achieved in the past.
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