War against Malaria still vulnerable

The WHO’s World Malaria Report 2016 highlights the ongoing challenge of malaria, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where children and pregnant women are most affected. Despite efforts to control malaria, the report reveals that it remains a significant public health issue, with millions of cases and deaths occurring worldwide.

In 2015 alone, there were 212 million new cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths globally. Alarmingly, nearly 78% of Plasmodium vivax malaria cases were concentrated in just four countries: Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

Although the WHO had aimed to reduce malaria cases to “near zero” by the end of the previous year, this goal has been hindered by funding shortages, highlighting the ongoing need for resources and support to combat the disease effectively.

Efforts to prevent malaria have included the widespread use of insecticide-treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, particularly in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission in Africa.

In a significant development, the world’s first malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S, is set to be rolled out through pilot projects in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa starting in 2018. This vaccine offers partial protection against P. falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa, based on advanced clinical trials.

While these initiatives represent important steps forward in the fight against malaria, continued investment and innovation will be crucial to achieving sustained progress and ultimately eliminating this devastating disease.