Malaria can be eliminated

Today is World Malaria Day. Instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007, the day falling annually on April 25 is an occasion to highlight the awareness of malaria and the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to its prevention and control.

Malaria is a huge public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa, with the rest of Africa, Latin America and Asia suffering it in less intensity and parts of the Middle East and even Europe experiencing it lesser.

It is a disease that attacks everyone within its reach but mostly kills children.

Globally, the disease attacks billions in 106 of the world’s 195 countries with very high mortality rates.

In 2020, for instance, some 241 million new cases and 627,000 deaths in 85 countries were recorded, with more than two thirds of deaths being among children under age 5 living in Africa.

The vector-transmissible disease is said to be preventable and treatable, yet it continues to have worrying impact on the health and livelihood of people living in the endemic countries.

The fight against the disease has become global, which is why even countries where it is not a public health problem have joined in it.

For instance, President of the US, Mr George W Bush Jr introduced in 2007 a project to help fight the disease, particularly in Africa.

Under the project, which has come to be known as the US President’ Malaria Initiative (PMI), Ghana, for instance, received $305 million to support its initiatives to fight the disease.

It must be noted that the fight against malaria is age-old because the search for a vaccine, for example, started in the 1960s, which means efforts were being made long before now and steady progress was made.

It is on record that there emerged advances in lowering the global burden of malaria between 2000 and 2015, but the progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

This has called for urgent and concerted action by the world towards achieving the 2030 WHO target of a world free of malaria or at least reducing the disease burden by 90 per cent.

The celebration of the World Malaria Day today, should therefore be a reference point to intensify the call for stronger action to save the globe from this preventable disease by use of every relevant tool or means, including financial assistance to poor nations and also adoption of new approaches.

This is why the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives’ should engage the attention of all governments.

In fact, the WHO says no single tool available today will solve the problem of malaria and calls for investments and innovation that bring new vector-control approaches, diagnostics, antimalarial medicines and other tools to speed the pace of the fight against malaria.

The WHO is making this call at a time it has approved a groundbreaking vaccine, RTS,S/AS01, to fight the disease.

 This means the global health organisation is not resting efforts to eradicate malaria from the globe.


Its vision is not impossible because there are some countries that have been certified malaria-free.

Any country that achieves at least three consecutive years of zero indigenous cases of malaria are eligible to apply for WHO certificate of malaria elimination

 It is on record that since 2015, nine have been able to achieve that, including Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018), Uzbekistan (2018), Argentina (2019), Algeria (2019), China (2021) and El Salvador (2021), which has become the first country in Central America to achieve that feat after more than 50 years of commitment, hard work and community involvement.

Even medical scientists testify to the fact that there is some complexity about the malaria vector, the female mosquito that makes its study very difficult, hence the multiple ways to control the disease currently.

These include sleeping in treated bed nets, residual indoor insecticide spraying, use of coils and the vaccine.

The Ghanaian Times believes that one day a single means would emerge to cure and eliminate malaria.

But until then endemic countries should identify all the conditions that make it easy for the female mosquito to survive such as stagnant water and eradicate them.

Besides, they should learn from El Salvador and other malaria-free countries how they became malaria-free.

Furthermore, malarial education should be intensified.

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