The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday said malaria killed 429,000 and infected 212 million people in 2015. It noted that millions of Africans still lack tools to prevent and treat the ailment.
In its World Malaria Report 2016 released yesterday, the global agency submitted that the marginal progress made in the control of menace was being threatened by the rapid resistance to insecticides and antimalarial drug as well as shortfall in funding.
The report observed that Sub-Saharan Africa carried a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden last year, accounting for 90 per cent of the cases and 92 per cent of the deaths. It noted that children under five years of age were particularly vulnerable, as an estimated 70 per cent of them died of the disease.
The yearly document provides an in-depth analysis of progress and trends on the ailment at global, regional and country levels. It is a collaborative effort with ministries of health in affected countries and several partners globally.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, noted: “We have made excellent progress, but our work is incomplete. Last year alone, the global tally of malaria reached 212 million cases and 429 000 deaths. Across Africa, millions of people still lack access to the tools they need to prevent and treat the disease. In many countries, progress is threatened by the rapid development and spread of mosquito resistance to insecticides. Antimalarial drug resistance could also jeopardise recent gains.”
The report, however, concluded that malaria control had improved for the vulnerable in Africa but added that global progress was still off-track.
She went on: “Our 2016 report spotlights a number of positive trends, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the region that carries the heaviest malaria burden. It shows that, in many countries, access to disease-cutting tools is expanding at a rapid rate for those most in need.
“Children are especially vulnerable, accounting for more than two thirds of global malaria deaths. In 22 African countries, the proportion of children with a fever who received a malaria diagnostic test at a public health facility increased by 77 per cent over the last five years. This test helps health providers swiftly distinguish between malarial and non-malarial fevers, enabling appropriate treatment.
“Malaria in pregnancy can lead to maternal mortality, anaemia and low birth weight, a major cause of infant mortality. WHO recommends intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy, known as IPTp, for all pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa living in areas of moderate-to-high transmission of malaria.