Malaria cases are rising in 55 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

A REPORT in The Lancet concludes that it is possible to eradicate malaria as early as 2050 — or within a generation — with the right strategies and sufficient funding. The report, published by The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication, used existing evidence with new epidemiological and financial analyses.

Lower incidence, many cases

Since 2000, global malaria incidence and death rates declined by 36 and 60 per cent, respectively. In 2017, 86 countries reported 219 million cases and 4,35,000 malaria deaths, down from 262 million cases and 8,39,000 deaths in 2000. Today, more than half of the world’s countries are malaria-free.

However, there are over 200 million cases of malaria reported each year, claiming nearly half a million lives. Malaria cases are rising in 55 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

There is also inequity, with 29 countries (27 in Africa) accounting for the large majority of new cases and 85 per cent of global deaths in 2017. Two countries (Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo) account for 36 per cent of global cases. On the other hand, 38 countries had incidences of fewer than ten cases per 1,000 population in 2017 and reported just 5% of total malaria deaths.

Modelling a world free from malaria

The report used new modelling to estimate plausible scenarios for the distribution and intensity of malaria in 2030 and 2050. Analyses indicate that socioeconomic and environmental trends, together with improved coverage of malaria interventions, will create a world in 2050 with malaria persisting in pockets of low-level transmission in equatorial Africa.

To achieve eradication by 2050, the report identifies three ways to accelerate the decline in malaria cases. First, the world must improve implementation of malaria control programnes. Second, they must develop and roll out innovative new tools to overcome the biological challenges to eradication. Third, malaria-endemic countries and donors must provide the financial investment needed.