The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its annual report on malaria at the global level- the World Malaria Report 2016- today.
Malaria was recognized as a major public health concern under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Target 6.C of the MDGs: “Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases” was achieved by 2015.
Between 2001 and 2013, a substantial expansion of malaria interventions contributed to a 47% decline in malaria mortality rates globally. During the same period, the global incidence of malaria was reduced by 30%.
Despite this progress, the disease remains endemic in all six WHO regions and the burden is heaviest in the African Region, where an estimated 90% of all malaria deaths occur.
Around the world, millions of people remain without access to malaria prevention and treatment, and most cases and deaths go unregistered and unreported. Given the projected growth in the size of the world’s population by 2030, more people will be living in countries where malaria is a risk, putting further strains on health systems and national malaria programme budgets.
The Malaria Policy Advisory Committee, established in 2011 to provide independent strategic advice to WHO on developing policy recommendations on malaria, recommended in 2013 that a malaria strategy for the post-2015 period be developed. Subsequently, the WHO adopted the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (GTS), in May 2015.
Target 3.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is “By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases”. For malaria, this is interpreted by WHO as the attainment of GTS targets.
The World Malaria Report 2016 presents information on 26 indicators to track the progress of the GTS.
According to the report, there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 (range 148–304 million).
The WHO African Region accounted for most global cases of malaria (90%), followed by the South-East Asia Region (7%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).
In 2015, there were an estimated 429 000 malaria deaths (range 235 000–639 000) worldwide. Most of these deaths occurred in the African Region (92%), followed by the South-East Asia Region (6%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).
Between 2010 and 2015, malaria incidence rates (new malaria cases) fell by 21% globally and in the African Region. During this same period, malaria mortality rates fell by an estimated 29% globally and by 31% in the African Region.
Children under 5 are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 303 000 under-fives globally, including 292 000 in the African Region. Between 2010 and 2015, the malaria mortality rate among children under 5 fell by an estimated 35%. Nevertheless, malaria remains a major killer of under-fives, claiming the life of 1 child every 2 minutes.
Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. Two forms of vector control are effective in a wide range of circumstances: insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS).
ITNs are the cornerstone of malaria prevention efforts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last 5 years, the use of treated nets in the region has increased significantly: in 2015, an estimated 53% of the population at risk slept under a treated net compared to 30% in 2010.
Indoor residual spraying of insecticides (IRS) is used by national malaria programmes in targeted areas. In 2015, 106 million people globally were protected by IRS, including 49 million people in Africa. The proportion of the population at risk of malaria protected by IRS declined from a peak of 5.7% globally in 2010 to 3.1% in 2015.
Rapid diagnostic testing (RDTs), introduced widely over the past decade, has made it easier to swiftly distinguish between malarial and non-malarial fevers, enabling timely and appropriate treatment.
New data presented in the report show that, in 2015, approximately half (51%) of children with a fever who sought care at a public health facility in 22 African countries received a malaria diagnostic test compared to 29% in 2010.
To protect women in areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in Africa, WHO recommends “intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy” (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. The treatment, administered at each scheduled antenatal care visit after the first trimester, can prevent maternal and infant mortality, anaemia, and the other adverse effects of malaria in pregnancy.
According to available data, there was a five-fold increase in the percentage of women receiving the recommended 3 or more doses of this preventive treatment in 20 African countries. Coverage reached 31% in 2015, up from 6% in 2010.
Link to the WHO news release:
Link to WHO’s World Malaria Report 2016 (English) [PDF] (Key points in French and Spanish):
Link to WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (English) [PDF]:
Link to WHO fact sheet on World Malaria Report 2016 (English) [HTML]: