Lack of funding threatens malaria battle18th December 2012
The Geneva-based World Health Organisation (WHO) says that a lack of funding in the wake of the global recession is now threatening recent "remarkable" progress in the fight against malaria.
Between 2010 and 2012, funding flattened out following a sharp increase in the years 2004-2009, WHO said.
This has meant that not so many preventive measures were taken in regions of the world hardest hit by the killer infectious disease, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the UN agency said in its World Malaria Report this week.
Lead author Richard Cibulskis warned of a major resurgence of the disease in the absence of increased control on the population of mosquitoes, which carry the plasmodium falciparum parasite.
Mosquitoes are vectors, or carriers, of malaria, and prevention measures generally include the use of pesticide-treated mosquito nets in countries where the disease is endemic.
The was a sharp fall in the number of nets delivered to such countries in sub-Saharan Africa, from 145 million in 2010 to an estimated 66 million in 2012.
The report warned that many households in African countries would have no replacements for outworn bednets, and that more people would be exposed to malaria as a result.
The malaria parasite is carried in the saliva of mosquitoes. Of the hundreds of thousands of people who die of the disease every year, most are babies and children under the age of five in Africa.
The WHO estimates that 219 million people were infected with malaria in 2010, 660,000 of whom died, although some experts say the true figure could be twice as high.
Malaria-related aid, including medicines, preventive measures and diagnostic test kits, are projected to cost around US$5.1 billion each year between now and 2020.
The disease is current in a total of 99 countries around the world.
Continued investment in existing interventions like bednets and the spraying of insecticides was crucial to stop malaria making a comeback, Cibulskis told reporters at a news conference launching the WHO Malaria Report.
Some countries have increased malaria-linked aid, but the total available funding still stands at less than half what is needed, currently just US$2.3 billion in 2011.
According to Robert Newman, director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, global targets for reducing the malaria burden will not be reached unless progress is accelerated in the countries which carry the highest malaria burden.
Most of the countries in which malaria is prevalent need urgent financial assistance to procure and distribute life-saving commodities, he said.
An estimated 80% of malaria-related deaths take place in just 14 countries where malaria is endemic, with Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the hardest hit in Africa, while India has the biggest malaria problem in South Asia.
WHO director general Margaret Chan called on global health bodies to find ways to stretch existing funds further by improving efficiency and finding the best value goods and services.
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Title: Lack of funding threatens malaria battle
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 23389
Date Added: 18th Dec 2012