The World Health Organization has announced in a press release that efforts to fight Malaria in Africa have been successful, although more funds are needed to reach the organization’s agenda, which seeks to eradicate malaria from the continent and the world.  WHO stated that both domestic and international funding are crucial to avoid malaria-related deaths.

WHO’s World Malaria Report 2016 shows that children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa now have greater access to effective malaria control measures. Children are better diagnosed and preventive treatment for pregnant women have managed to save many lives compared to past years.

A woman holds a baby under a mosquito net in South Sudan. Image credit: Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images.

Malaria is an intermittent and remittent fever caused by a parasite that is transmitted by female mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions. Symptoms appear seven days or more after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Adults can experience fever, headache, chills, and vomiting. Symptoms are usually mild but can evolve and lead to death. Children with malaria can show anemia, respiratory distress or cerebral malaria.

The new report shows that in 2015 sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 90 percent of worldwide cases and 92 percent of malaria-related deaths. Children in the region represent 70 percent of all malaria deaths.

WHO efforts, along with domestic policies, have moderated malaria in pregnant women in the African region. They have received preventive treatment during pregnancy involving sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. This measure can prevent maternal and infant deaths due to malaria. Coverage for pregnant women went from 6 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2015.

The most effective preventive measure has been insecticide-treated nets and has become a popular tool in several sub-Saharan African households. The report discovered that the treated nets were being used by 53 percent of the population. In 2010, the nets were used by 30 percent of the population took into consideration for the study.

More funds are needed to eliminate the disease in 20 African countries

The recent report tries to raise awareness about the importance of investment to eradicate the life-threatening condition and avoid all malaria-related deaths. Despite the incredible improvement in malaria prevention, several areas in the sub-Saharan region accounted for 43 percent of the population that was not protected by treated nets.

Not only Africa is unprotected. According to the report, there were 212 million new cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths due to the disease globally in 2015. Apart from Africa, South-East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are vulnerable to malaria.

WHO’s funding milestone to fight malaria for 2020 is more than $6 billion, but the goal seems difficult to reach because funding has flatlined since 2010. In 2015 malaria funding almost reached $3 billion, but it proved not to be enough.

The organization stressed that domestic and international efforts are both needed to collect the necessary resources to prevent and cure the disease. The United States is the largest international malaria funder, providing 35 percent of total funding to fight the parasite, followed by the United Kingdom.

Source: World Health Organization