The Commonwealth is falling behind its commitment to halve malaria cases by 2023 as mortality rates hit a peak, reveals new report.
Despite significant efforts to bring the disease under control, the annual Commonwealth Malaria Report 2022 has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted malaria services leading to an increase in incidence and mortality rates. Findings have shown that for the first time since the malaria commitment was formed, both the case incidence and mortality rate for malaria are greater than they were in 2015.
The 2022 report provides a clear picture of the state of malaria in the Commonwealth following the emergence of COVID-19 and illustrates the progress being made to meet malaria targets. It also reveals insights into the trends in malaria interventions and highlights the ways leaders can invest in responding to the disease.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland commented on the findings: “The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every part of the Commonwealth and has pushed countries’ health systems to the brink.
“At the same time, it has made us understand just how interlinked our collective health is. It is in the context of these turbulent times that this year’s Commonwealth Malaria Report must be understood.
“While we have seen the first rise in malaria cases and deaths since 2015, we can recognise that without major interventions to keep programmes operating and malaria diagnoses and treatments available, it could have been much worse.
“I urge our Commonwealth family to continue to prioritise the fight against malaria, especially in the face of the other challenges facing our nations’ health systems.”
The Commonwealth has a third of the world’s population, but it accounts for over half of all malaria cases and deaths recorded each year. African countries continue to carry the heaviest malaria burden – Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda accounting for 66 per cent of the world’s malaria cases.
Whilst the report highlights the disproportionality of Commonwealth countries in malaria, a fifth of Commonwealth malaria-endemic countries – Bangladesh, Belize, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan – appear to be on track to halve both malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the 2023 deadline. Six countries have achieved the target already, namely Bangladesh, Belize, The Gambia, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan.
The report has also looked at the impact of innovation and the contribution of the malaria research and development community in developing new tools needed to combat malaria, such as last year’s launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine RTS,S approved by the World Health Organization.
The report was launched on the margins of the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting that opened on 17 May.
Learn More: The Commonwealth Secretariat
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