Today, on World Malaria Day, WHO recognized the significant accomplishments in preventing and controlling malaria, including in high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but highlighted the threat of antimalarial drug resistance in south-east Asia's greater Mekong sub-region, where an emergency response is now being launched.
In total, an estimated US $5.1 billion is needed every year between 2011 and 2020 to achieve universal access to malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment around the world. Although many countries have increased domestic financing for malaria control, the total available global funding remained at US$ 2.3 billion in 2011 - less than half what is required. Many people still lack access to prevention measures such as mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying and are unable to obtain diagnostic testing and effective medicines to treat malaria infection. Equally worryingly, there is a real danger that a recent slowdown in mosquito net procurement could lead to resurgences and outbreaks.
In 2012, malaria transmission occurred in 99 countries and territories around the world, putting an estimated 3.3 billion people at risk of illness. In 2010, an estimated 219 million cases occurred globally (range: 154 to 289 million) while the disease killed an estimated 660,000 people (range: 490,000 to 836,000), mostly children under five years of age.
"In recent years endemic countries, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa, have made major headway in reducing new cases and deaths from malaria," says Dr Hiroki Nakatani, WHO's assistant director-general for HIV, TB, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. "But that progress could now be at risk. We are increasingly concerned by signs in the south-east Asia region that the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to some of the drugs that have helped make so much progress."
Although major efforts are under way to develop new classes of antimalarials, there are no replacement products on the immediate horizon.