(Down to Earth: Health)
Dec 7- World Malaria Report 2021- https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/global-malaria-response-suffered-due-to-covid-19-world-malaria-report-2021-80585
- GS-II – Poverty and related issues
- GS-3: Indian Economy
World Malaria Report 2021
In News: Each year, WHO’s World malaria report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of trends in malaria control and elimination across the globe. It tracks investments in malaria programmes and research as well as progress across all intervention areas: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, elimination and surveillance.
Global efforts to tackle malaria suffered due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in 2020, according to the World Malaria Report 2021 released.
- If expeditious action is not taken, the world is in the danger of seeing an immediate resurgence of the disease, particularly in Africa
- Crucial milestones of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 have been missed in 2020. The 2030 targets will not be met without immediate attention.
- India accounted for 83 per cent of cases in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Sri Lanka was certified malaria-free in 2016 and remains malaria-free.
Some alarming numbers
- There were an estimated 627,000 malaria deaths in 2020, an increase of 12 per cent over 2019.
- Some 47,000 (68 per cent) of the additional 69,000 deaths were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- An estimated 241 million malaria cases were reported in 2020 in 85 malaria-endemic countries, increasing from 227 million in 2019.
- The WHO classified China and El Salvador to be ‘malaria-free’ in 2020. These countries reported zero cases in three consecutive years to get their certification. Together with them, 23 countries in the world have this status.
- In the world’s decades-long fight against malaria, WHO has approved the first vaccine against the disease in October this year, after 30 years of study and tests. ‘Mosquirix’ is the first vaccine against any parasite, and saves one life for every 200 children vaccinated. Many children also suffer from repeated episodes of malaria in a single year, and Mosquirix promises to reduce such recurrence by 40%.
- Rapid tests to diagnose malaria will be rendered useless if two genes are deleted from the genome from the mutating malaria parasite – and there aren’t many feasible alternatives to these tests. The WHO has already asked countries reporting false negative tests to conduct representative baseline surveys first, to understand the extent of the problem. The emergence of resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs is a significant risk for the global effort to reduce the malaria burden.
- In India, a combination of artesunate plus sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine is usually prescribed to treat malaria – but in Chhattisgarh – one of the country’s high-malaria-burden states – studies have shown resistance to the latter compound. Insecticide resistance is a similar cause for worry.
The Way Forward
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, global gains against malaria had levelled off. With the hard work of public health agencies in malaria-affected countries, the worst projections of COVID’s impact have not come to pass. Now, we need to harness that same energy and commitment to reverse the setbacks caused by the pandemic and step up the pace of progress against this disease.
- The new strategy should call for tailoring malaria responses to local settings, harnessing innovation, strengthening health systems and ensuring robust global malaria funding.
- There is a need to recognize the need to ensure better and more equitable access to all health services – including malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment – by strengthening primary health care and stepping up both domestic and international investments.
- Innovation in new tools is also a critical strategy for accelerating progress.
- Meeting global targets will also require robust funding. According to the report, current funding levels (estimated at US$3.3 billion in 2020) will need to more than triple, reaching US$ 10.3 billion per year by 2030.
- Countries and global partners should contribute their share every year to make Mosquirix better and more widely available.
Can you answer the following questions?
- Is the battle against malaria going downhill? Discuss.