Eliminating malaria is biologically possible, and a lofty aim, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Friday, but the focus, for now, ought to be getting the funds, instruments and political will to manage it.
Releasing the findings of a 3-year extended evaluation of the global fight in opposition to malaria, WHO experts stated that while ending the mosquito-borne disease ‘can be done’, it’s not yet possible to place a price tag or target date on reaching eradication.
Setting unrealistic goals with unknown prices and endpoints can result in “frustration and backlashes,” said the director of the WHO’s global malaria program, Pedro Alonso, so the world ought to focus first on producing new medicines, vaccines, and pesticides to get malaria cases and deaths under control.
After a decade or so of significant drops in malaria case numbers and deaths, the latest WHO records present progress is delaying.
Malaria hit around 219 million people in 2017 and killed about 435,000 of them – the overwhelming majority of them babies and kids in the poorest parts of Africa.
These totals are little modified from 2016; however, global case numbers had previously dropped constantly from 239 million to 214 million during 2010-2015, and deaths from 607,000 in 2010 to about 500,000 in 2013.
Several drugs are available to deal with malaria efficiently, and insecticide-treated bednets have proved able to control mosquitoes and infections. A partially useful vaccine – the world’s first against malaria – has been made by the British drug producer SK and is being used in Ghana and Malawi, with plans for rollout in Kenya.