The World Health Assembly, the main governing body of the World Health Organization, has adopted a new resolution that aims to revitalise and accelerate efforts to end malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that continues to claim more than 4,00,000 lives annually.
Led by the United States of America and Zambia – and co-sponsored by Botswana, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Eswatini, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Philippines, Peru, Sudan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Member States of the European Union – the resolution comes at a critical time as global progress against malaria stalls and the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to further derail efforts to tackle the disease worldwide.
The resolution urges Member States to step up the pace of progress through plans and approaches that are consistent with WHO’s updated global malaria strategy and the WHO Guidelines for malaria. It calls on countries to extend investment in and support for health services, ensuring no one is left behind; sustain and scale up sufficient funding for the global malaria response; and boost investment in the research and development of new tools.
“This new resolution is particularly welcome at a time when global malaria control efforts have been losing ground,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “It sends a very strong signal that countries around the world are committed to scaling up action towards a common goal: a world free of malaria.”
Despite a period of unprecedented success in global malaria control, with an estimated, 7.6 million deaths and 1.5 billion cases averted since 2000, the global gains in combatting malaria have levelled off in recent years. According to the latest World malaria report, there were approximately 229 million new cases of malaria in 2019, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged since 2015.