World Malaria Day: WHO Launches Effort To Stamp Out Malaria
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Ahead of World Malaria Day, marked annually on 25 April, WHO congratulates the growing number of countries that are approaching, and achieving, zero cases of malaria. A new initiative aims to halt transmission of the disease in 25 more countries by 2025.

Of the 87 countries with malaria, 46 reported fewer than 10 000 cases of the disease in 2019 compared to 26 countries in 2000. By the end of 2020, 24 countries had reported interrupting malaria transmission for 3 years or more. Of these, 11 were certified malaria-free by WHO.

~ Key drivers of success

Success is driven, first and foremost, by political commitment within a malaria-endemic country. This commitment is translated into domestic funding that is often sustained over many decades, even after a country is malaria-free.

Most countries that reach zero malaria have strong primary health care systems that ensure access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services. Many countries that eliminate malaria have relied on dedicated networks of volunteer health workers to detect and treat the disease.

~ New report: “Zeroing in on malaria elimination”

Through the E-2020 initiative, launched in 2017, WHO has supported 21 countries in their efforts to get to zero malaria cases within the 2020 timeline. WHO has identified a new group of 25 countries that have the potential to stamp out malaria within a 5-year timeline. Through the E-2025 initiative, these countries will receive specialized support and technical guidance as they work towards the target of zero malaria.

8 of the E-2020 member countries reported zero indigenous cases of human malaria by the end of 2020. In Malaysia, the P. knowlesi parasite infected approximately 2600 people in 2020. Timor-Leste reported only 1 indigenous case, while 3 other countries – Bhutan, Costa Rica and Nepal – reported fewer than 100 cases.

~ Malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong
Malaria cases in the Greater Mekong subregion fell by 97% between 2000 and 2020. Malaria deaths were reduced by more than 99% in the same period of time, from 6000 to 15. Countries in the region have also made major strides towards their shared goal of elimination by 2030.

~ Tackling malaria during a global pandemic

In 2020, COVID-19 emerged as a serious challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Since the early days of the pandemic, WHO has urged countries to maintain essential health services, including for malaria. Many malaria-endemic countries mounted impressive responses to the pandemic, adapting the way they deliver malaria services to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments.

According to the results of a new WHO survey, approximately one third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services during the first quarter of 2021. Malaria diagnosis and treatment services were interrupted as many people were unable – or unwilling – to seek care in health facilities.

WHO is calling on all people living in malaria-affected countries to “beat the fear”: people with a fever should go to the nearest health facility to be tested for malaria and receive the care they need, within the context of national COVID-19 protocols.

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