The World Health Organization has called on countries to urgently scale up innovation and the deployment of new tools in the fight against malaria while ensuring equitable access to malaria prevention and treatment for universal health coverage.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti made the call in a message to mark this year’s World Malaria Day.

She said there’s a need for countries to build health system resilience to address the needs of low-income populations in order to avert millions of death caused by malaria annually across the globe.

“The past year has seen significant breakthroughs in malaria prevention and control, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Landmark recommendations on the use of the first vaccine against malaria – RTS,S – were released by the World Health Organization late last year. This vaccine will be used to prevent malaria among children aged six months to five years, who live in moderate- to high-transmission settings.”

Dr. Moeti while speaking on the theme of the 2022 world malaria day, “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives”, noted that “this is a groundbreaking advance in the development of new tools to fight this disease, with the potential to save millions of lives, supplies are currently limited. As such, it is important to ensure that the doses that are available are utilized for maximum impact while ensuring the continued availability of other preventive measures to those most at risk.

Malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge. In the last year, about 95% of the estimated 228 million cases occurred in the WHO/AFRO Region, along with 602 020 reported deaths. Six of our countries, the worst impacted by malaria in the Region, are reported to have accounted for up to 55% of cases globally, and for 50% of these deaths.

For example, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) campaigns were implemented as planned in 2021, ensuring protection for an additional 11.8 million children. Indoor residual spraying was also carried out, and long-lasting insecticidal nets were distributed, largely as planned.

Other notable achievements include the scaled implementation of RTS,S vaccine pilots in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, which reached up to 900 000 children.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people catching and dying from malaria.

We also need to work on drug and insecticide resistance, as well as focus on new strains of malaria arising in the Region, which are more difficult to detect, and treat.”

World Malaria Day is marked annually on 25 April aimed at boosting regional commitment to malaria, and its devastating impact on families, communities, and societal development.

 

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