Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Korea inch closer to eradicating malaria
In the twelve years between 2000 and 2012, as many as 3.3 million possible deaths from malaria have been averted, says the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Malaria Report, 2013, released this week.
According to the report, estimated malaria mortality fell by 45 per cent in all age groups and 51 per cent in children under five years of age worldwide, in the past 12 years.
It is projected that malaria mortality will decrease by 56 per cent in all ages, and by 63 per cent in children under five years of age. This will be termed a substantial progress towards the goal to reduce malaria mortality rate by 75 per cent by 2015. This goal was set by the World Health Assembly in 2005.
Still a lot remains to be achieved. An estimated 3.4 billion people were at risk of malaria in 2012. The report says that out of total population at risk of getting malaria, 2.2 billion were in low risk category. The remaining 1.2 billion who are at high risk were living mostly in the African region (47 per cent) and the south-east Asian region (37 per cent).
Where Asia stands
Of the 10 countries in South, East and Southeast Asia where malaria is prevalent, five—Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal and Sri Lanka—registered decrease in the incidence of confirmed malaria cases by 75 per cent or more between 2000 and 2012.
Two countries, Thailand and Timor-Leste, are projected to decrease malaria incidence by more than 75 per cent by 2015.
India is projected to reduce case incidence by 50 per cent to 75 per cent by 2015. In the two remaining countries, Indonesia and Myanmar, incidence trends are obscured by changes in diagnostics, says WHO.
In Southeast Asia, about 1.6 billion people are at some risk of malaria in the 10 malaria-endemic countries, and 1 billion people are at high risk.
Sri Lanka is in the elimination phase whereas Bhutan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are in the pre-elimination phase.
Tough road ahead
In a statement released on the occasion, director of the WHO global malaria programme, Robert Newman, said that the remarkable gains against malaria are still fragile. The director further said that the world will need innovative tools and technologies as well as new strategies approach to sustain and accelerate the progress.
WHO is currently developing a global technical strategy for malaria control and elimination for the period between 2016 and 2025.
Funding of malaria control programme is another major issue, says the report. Since 2000, funding increased but it has slowed in the last couple of years. According to the report, “International disbursements to malaria-endemic countries have increased markedly, from less than US$ 100 million in 2000 to US$ 1.6 billion in 2011, and an estimated US$ 1.94 billion in 2012 and $1.97 billion in 2013. However, increases in international funding have slowed in recent years, to an average of 4 per cent per year between 2009 and 2013.” WHO officials appealed world community to show same energy to eradicate malaria.
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