On World Malaria Day Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) will tell the global health community there is an urgent need to remedy the gaps in preventing, diagnosing and treating malaria around the world.
Since 2000, experts have reported dramatic declines of cases and deaths related to malaria. Despite this encouraging news, there are still over 500,000 people who die from malaria each year. In light of these statistics, WHO has released an updated “Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria.”
“As we celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25, we must recognize the urgent need to expand prevention measures and quality-assured diagnostic testing and treatment to reduce the human suffering caused by malaria,” WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Hiroki Nakatani said.
At least three-quarters of deaths related to malaria take place in children who are younger than 5 years old. In 2013, approximately 1 out of every 5 children in Africa with malaria received effective treatment for their cases. Also in 2013, 15 million women who were pregnant did not receive even one dose of the preventive drugs recommended by health professionals. Experts estimate that in one year, approximately 278 million Africans live in homes that do not have any insecticide-treated bed nets.
“We must take the malaria fight to the next level,” Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program Pedro Alonso said. “Moving towards elimination will require high-level political commitment and robust financing, including substantial new investments in disease surveillance, health systems strengthening and research. In addition, we urgently need new tools to tackle emerging drug and insecticide resistance, as well as innovative approaches that will accelerate progress.”