Every year on April 25, the world comes together to raise awareness of malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that continues to have a devastating impact on the health and livelihoods of people around the world. Despite the considerable progress made in lowering the global malaria burden between 2000 and 2015, progress against the disease has stalled in recent years.
The latest World Malaria Report highlighted that we are at a precarious juncture in the fight against malaria. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria and 627 000 malaria-related deaths worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa carries the largest share of the global malaria burden accounting for 96% of global deaths and 95% of global cases. More than two-thirds of deaths were children under the age of 5.
This year’s World Malaria Day is marked under the WHO theme “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.” The World Health Organization recognizes that no single tool available today will solve the problem of malaria and that innovative approaches are crucial if the world is to achieve global elimination targets. Amongst innovations being considered as part of a growing malaria control toolbox are gene drive approaches for vector control. In a recent article by the WHO, Dr Mike Santos, GeneConvene Global Collaborative and Dr Mamadou Coulibaly, Target Malaria, explain how this new technology could help save lives.
Today, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and the wider global health community are also calling on countries to meet the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment target of at least USD$18 billion to fund malaria, HIV and TB programs going forward. This is the minimum required to get the fight against these diseases back on track towards elimination targets and make the world more equitable and safer from future threats.
This World Malaria Day, we join the global malaria community to amplify the call for new investments and innovations in the global fight against malaria. Let’s fight for what counts with every tool we can muster. Happy World Malaria Day!