According to the World Malaria Report 2022 published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted attempts to control malaria, resulting in 63,000 more deaths and 13 million more infections globally over the last two years.
- The WHO, a United Nations (UN) health agency, reported that instances of malaria, a parasitic disease, increased in 2020 and continued to rise in 2021, although at a lesser rate.
World Malaria Report 2022
The report features 3 new sections on:
- Global and regional initiatives launched in 2021 and 2022
- Global malaria surveillance and country-level case studies on surveillance systems assessments
- Research and development (R&D)
The report also features a deeper section on challenges to malaria control, with a focus on the decreased efficacy of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Key Observations from The Report
i.In 2021, Africa accounted for 95% of the world’s 247 million malaria infections and 6,19,000 deaths.
- More than half of all malaria deaths occurred in just four nations: Nigeria, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger.
- Eleven countries with the highest burden of malaria globally but taking steps against malaria during the pandemic are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, the Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
- Four countries namely Belize, Cabo Verde, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Malaysia were able to maintain zero indigenous cases of the main human malaria parasites between 2020 and 2021 . All of these countries are part of the “E-2025”, a WHO initiative aimed at supporting in eliminating the disease.
- Two countries China and El Salvador were certified malaria free after achieving 4 years of zero indigenous malaria cases during the pandemic year of 2021.
ii.Despite the fact that global malaria mortality is predicted to reduce from 625,000 in 2020 to 619,000 in 2021, the number of deaths has remained higher than the estimated 568,000 in 2019.
iii.On the contrary, malaria infections increased, although slowly, reaching an estimated 247 million cases in 2021 as opposed to 245 million cases in 2020 and 232 million cases in 2019.
iv.According to the report, financing in 2021 was close to USD 3.5 billion, an increase from 2020 & 2021.
- But it was still far short of the USD 7.3 billion estimated to be needed globally to eradicate the disease.
Measures taken to control Malaria
- In most malaria-endemic countries, Insecticide-Treated Bednets (ITNs) are the major vector control tool, and countries distributed more ITNs in 2020 than in any previous year.
- In areas of Africa where malaria transmission is primarily seasonal, Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) is prescribed to protect children against the disease.
- Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the most effective treatment for P. falciparum malaria.
- Malaria-endemic countries distributed an expected 242 million ACTs globally in 2021, in comparison to 239 million ACTs in 2019.
What is Malaria?
i.Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted to humans by the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
ii.Malaria is caused by five parasite species, the most dangerous of which are P. falciparum and P. vivax.
- P. falciparum is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most common on the African continent.
- P. vivax is the most common malaria parasite in most areas outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.
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About the World Health Organization (WHO):
Director-General – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland
Establishment – 1948