Every year, more than 219 million people become severely ill with malaria, and up to 660,000 people die. Over three billion people are at risk of malaria worldwide.
No vaccine yet exists, but prevention measures do and treatment is reasonably effective. However, speedy diagnosis and treatment are essential.
Pregnant women and infants, people living with HIV and people caught in emergencies are particularly at risk. Climate change also threatens to spread malaria to new areas not currently affected.
Resistance to the cheapest anti-malarial drugs is a growing problem. Effective new drugs are available, but they are more expensive. And nearly 75% of those at risk of malaria in Africa still don’t have insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Global commitments to tackle malaria have increased as a result of the Millennium Development Goals, and particularly through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. There have been significant achievements in some countries as a result. However, malaria is still estimated to reduce economic growth in heavily affected countries by 1.3% every year.
World leaders agreed a Global Malaria Action Plan in September 2008, but the cost to implement it is $5 billion per year. Nowhere near this amount of money has actually been committed yet.
Health Poverty Action says:
- Malaria is preventable and curable. Leaders of wealthy countries need to provide the political will and resources to fund the Global Malaria Action Plan. Funding must particularly help prevent, diagnose and treat malaria among the poor and marginalised.
- More investment is needed to develop new drugs, vaccines, longer-lasting treated mosquito nets and more effective ways of diagnosing malaria.
- Strong national health systems, with enough clinics and hospitals and trained health workers are a fundamental part of tackling malaria.
- Greater provision of anti-malarials to pregnant women, as part of their antenatal care, could significantly reduce infections.
- Better health education is needed so that people know how malaria can be prevented, the danger signs, the urgency of getting help and the importance of completing their treatment.
- The international community must respond quickly to natural disasters and conflict, which often displace a lot of people into areas of high malaria risk.
- As evidence grows of the links between HIV and malaria, more joined up working on the two diseases is essential.
What is Health Poverty Action doing to help?
- We use an innovative ‘health system strengthening’ approach in Yunnan, China to cut the growing number of malaria infections.
- Health Poverty Action is teaching ethnic communities in remote areas of Laos how to limit the spread of malaria by spreading key health messages among villagers.