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Sunday, April 14, 2024

95% of Malaria deaths globally occur in Africa

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Ministers of health from African countries with the highest burden of malaria have committed to ending deaths from the disease, as the African region accounts for 95 per cent of malaria deaths globally.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed on its official website that the Ministers at a conference held in Yaounde Cameroon signed a declaration committing to accelerated action and “pledged to sustainably and equitably address the threat of malaria in the African region.”


According to the WHO, the African region is home to 11 countries that carry approximately 70 per cent of the global burden of malaria.

It noted that the high-burden countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, have had a retrogression in the fight against malaria since 2017.

The Yaounde conference was co-hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Cameroon, attended by Ministers of Health, global malaria partners, funding agencies, scientists, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.


Contributing factors

WHO highlighted that some of the contributing factors include humanitarian crises, low access to and insufficient quality of health services, climate change, gender-related barriers, biological threats such as insecticide and drug resistance and global economic crises.

“Fragile health systems and critical gaps in data and surveillance have compounded the challenge,” it noted.

“Funding for malaria control globally is also inadequate. In 2022, US$ 4.1 billion – just over half of the needed budget – was available for malaria response.”

According to WHO, the number of malaria cases recorded globally in 2022 was significantly higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, rising to 249 million from 233 million in 2019.


“In the same period, the African region saw an increase in cases from 218 million to 233 million. The region continues to shoulder the heaviest malaria burden, representing 94 per cent of global malaria cases and 95 per cent of global deaths, an estimated 580 000 deaths in 2022,” it noted.

In his remarks, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, acknowledged that the world had made significant progress in previous decades until 2017 when it stalled.

Mr Ghebereyus observed that the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing threats like drug and insecticide resistance pushed us further off-track, with critical gaps in funding and access to tools to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.

“With political leadership, country ownership and the commitment of a broad coalition of partners, we can change this story for families and communities across Africa,” he was quoted.


Giving further details about the declaration, WHO said the Ministers committed “to provide stronger leadership and increased domestic funding for malaria control programmes; to ensure further investment in data technology.

“To apply the latest technical guidance in malaria control and elimination; and to enhance malaria control efforts at the national and sub-national levels,” it noted

The Ministers further pledged to augment health sector investments to sustain infrastructure, personnel, and programme implementation to ameliorate multi-sectoral integration and to build partnerships for financing, research, and innovation.

“This declaration reflects our shared commitment as nations and partners to protect our people from the devastating consequences of malaria,” the Minister for Health of Cameroon, Manaouda Malachie, was quoted to have said.

“We will work together to ensure that this commitment is translated into action and impact.”

According to WHO, the ministerial conference has four key aims, which include reviewing the progress and challenges in achieving the targets of the WHO global malaria strategy: discussing mitigation strategies and funding for malaria; and agreeing on effective strategies and responses for accelerated malaria mortality reduction in Africa.

WHO’S intervention, accomplishments

Mr Ghebreyesus noted that to help accelerate efforts to reduce the malaria burden, WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria launched the “High burden to high impact” approach in 2018, a targeted effort to accelerate progress in countries hardest hit by malaria.

He further stated that the declaration sealed at the conference was in line with the “High burden to high impact” path, which was established on four pillars: “political will to reduce malaria deaths; strategic information to drive impact; better guidance, policies and strategies; and a coordinated national malaria response.”

In her remarks, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said malaria has caused preventable deaths in children across Africa.

“We welcome today’s ministerial declaration, which demonstrates a strong political will to reduce the burden of this deadly disease, with renewed urgency and commitment, we can accelerate progress towards a future free of malaria,” Ms Moeti was quoted to have said.

To put malaria progress back on track, WHO recommends a robust commitment to malaria responses at all levels, particularly in high-burden countries; greater domestic and international funding, science, and data-driven malaria responses.

It also emphasised urgent action on the health impacts of climate change, harnessing research and innovation; as well as strong partnerships for coordinated responses.ministers’ meeting


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