About two thirds of all malaria cases and deaths last year were concentrated in Nigeria and nine other African countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The global body made this known in its World Malaria Report 2018 released on Monday as it announced the launch of efforts to get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track.
WHO said malaria is hitting harder because an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net, despite its wide distribution in sub-Saharan Africa.
Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before as access to preventive therapies for pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.
It noted in the report that in 2017, 151 million cases and 274,000 deaths from malaria were concentrated in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.
WHO lamented the fact that reductions in malaria cases “have stalled after several years of decline” globally.
In order to get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, “WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease,” said a statement.
WHO annual report reveals that for the second consecutive year, there has been no significant reduction in numbers of people affected by malaria.
In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015, according to the report.
“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”
Targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 to reduce malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40 per cent by 2020 are not on track to being met, the report also noted.