LIFE

Global fight on malaria stalled: WHO

Mosquito menace:Fogging in progress to control mosquitoes in Chennai, in this file photo.K. PichumaniK_Pichumani

Mosquito menace:Fogging in progress to control mosquitoes in Chennai, in this file photo.K. PichumaniK_Pichumani  

The number of cases of the killer disease climbed by 2 million to 219 million in 2017

The World Health Organisation on Monday said global efforts to fight malaria have hit a plateau as it reported there were more cases of the killer disease in 2017 than the previous year.

The latest WHO report showed that the number of malaria cases climbed to 219 million last year, two million higher than 2016, while international funding has declined.

“The world faces a new reality,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned as the UN agency launched the new report.

“As progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” the WHO chief said.

Malaria, which is spread to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes, occurs in 91 countries but about 90% of the cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Foreign funding to some of the most affected countries has declined, in certain instances by more than 20 percent for every individual at risk of contracting the disease.

“A considerable proportion of people at risk of infection are not being protected, including pregnant women and children in Africa,” the WHO chief said.

Kids at risk

The disease killed 4,35,000 people last year, the majority of them children under five in Africa.

Another constraint in fighting malaria has been mosquitoes building up resistance to some insecticides, it said.

WHO said it was embarking on new ways to scale up the battle against one of the world's deadliest diseases.

The plan includes country-led projects to “jumpstart aggressive” control efforts, said Kesete Admasu, who heads Roll Back Malaria, a global partnership initiative to curb the parasitic disease.

“Business as usual is no longer an option,” said Mr. Admasu.

Most malaria cases reported last year were in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.

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