December 14, 2011
WHO Sets Goal Of Zero Malaria Deaths By 2015
Health officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) are hoping to cut malaria death rates even though they haven´t met a goal to cut deaths in half by 2010.
The WHO released a report that malaria cases have been reduced by 17 percent since 2000. Experts say that in 2010 there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide with 81 percent of the cases taking place in Africa, mostly children under five.
Dr. Robert Newman, director of the WHO´s malaria program, is disappointed to not have reduced malaria by 50 percent in 2010, but found significant progress in the fall of the diseases death rates by more than one-third in Africa.
According to Dr. Newman in order to cut the malaria death rates, every at-risk person needs access to a bed net, and suspected cases need to be properly diagnosed and treated. These improvements in prevention and treatment are expected to cost $6 billion a year, about three times the current spending worldwide on malaria prevention.
The disease also needs to be properly tracked. In the African countries where malaria is most prevalent, health officials use modeling estimates to track the disease not actual patients.
Dr. Newman said, “Unless we know where we still have malaria, we cannot successfully take the fight to the next level. It is unacceptable that people continue to die from malaria for lack of a $5 bed net, a 50 cent diagnostic test and a $1 anti-malarial treatment.”
The fight against malaria is hampered by the worldwide ongoing financial crisis. The top funder of public health programs, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently announced that they have run out of money for the next round of grants, reports CBSnews.
This shortage of funds delays the prospect of bed nets and treatments. Several foundations continue to fund the effort such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Britain and the U.S.
Other sources of funding could come from taxes on financial transactions or airline journeys, which the WHO estimates could generate extra funds.
According to the WHO report, “Other country-specific schemes, such as tourist taxes, may offer opportunities to raise funds for control programs in malaria endemic countries.”
The fight against malaria, though, is more than just about prevention. In Asian countries they are discovering a drug resistant variety causing concern.
Malaria is endemic in 106 countries and is transmitted in 99 of those. Six countries account for 60 percent of malaria deaths, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkino Faso, Mozambique, Ivory Coast and Mali.
On the Net:
- WHO Statement/Report
- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation