The global fight against malaria is facing a critical setback, with a World Health Organization (WHO) report revealing a year-on-year increase of around 5 million malaria cases in 2022, surpassing global targets to contain it, and a $3.7 billion funding gap in vaccine response.
Released yesterday 30th November 2023, the WHO’s annual World Malaria Report attributed this surge to pandemic-related disruptions, climate change-induced extreme weather events, and pre-existing challenges like drug and insecticide resistance.
Progress in combating malaria has already stagnated since 2015 due to factors such as conflict and rising resistance.
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, emphasised the severity of the situation, stating,
The report disclosed an estimated 249 million malaria cases in 2022, exceeding the WHO’s target of 26.2 cases per 1,000 at-risk individuals, with the actual global incidence recorded at 58.4 cases.
Progress toward the 2025 target is deemed 55% off track, and at the current trajectory, it is projected to miss the mark by 89% this year.
Notably, areas experiencing extreme weather conditions saw a surge in malaria cases, exemplified by a five-fold increase in Pakistan following floods last year.
While malaria deaths declined steadily from 2000 to 2019, the pandemic reversed this trend, resulting in an estimated 608,000 deaths in 2022, primarily among young children.
The report highlighted two new malaria vaccines expected to be available next year. However, it also underscored a substantial funding gap in the response, revealing that while $4.1 billion was invested in the global effort in 2022, approximately $7.8 billion was needed to address the escalating crisis.