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Malaria killed 409,000, infected 229m persons in 2019, says WHO


Nigeria has highest cases, deaths globally with 23%

Malaria killed 409,000 and infected 229 million persons in 2019, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) latest report on the disease published yesterday.

According to the report, Nigeria has the highest burden of malaria in the world, accounting for 23 per cent of all cases and deaths globally in 2019. Nigeria led 11 countries that, together, accounted for approximately 70 per cent of the world’s malaria burden in 2017. Others are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.

“Since 2014, the rate of progress in both cases and deaths in the African region has slow, attributable mainly to the stalling of progress in several countries with moderate or high transmission. In 2019, six African countries accounted for 50 per cent of all malaria cases globally: Nigeria (23 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11 per cent), United Republic of Tanzania (five per cent), Niger (four per cent), Mozambique (four per cent) and Burkina Faso (four per cent). In view of recent trends, the African Region will miss the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) 2020 milestones for case incidence and mortality by 37 per cent and 25 per cent,” WHO said.

According to the global health body, COVID-19, funding shortfall and access gaps threatened global malaria gains and funding shortages have led to critical gaps in access to proven malaria control tools.

The report noted that although the African Region accounted for more than 90 per cent of overall disease burden, the continent has reduced its malaria death toll by 44 per cent, from estimated 680,000 in 2000 to 384,000 in 2019.

WHO said 50 per cent disruption in access to effective antimalarial treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, especially due to COVID-19, could lead to 100,000 additional deaths. It, however, noted that Nigeria could avert tens of millions of additional cases and thousands of additional deaths by 2023 through optimised mix of interventions.

It also noted that Africa would miss 2020 target for reductions in malaria case incidence by 37 per cent and mortality reduction target by 22 per cent.

According to the report, eliminating malaria in all countries, especially those with a high disease burden, will likely require tools that are not available today.

In September 2019, the WHO Director-General issued a “malaria challenge,” calling on the global health community to ramp up investment in the research and development of new malaria-fighting tools and approaches. This message was further reinforced in the April 2020 report of the WHO Strategic advisory group on malaria eradication.

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