Progress in the fight against malaria since 2000 has resulted in a 58% reduction in malaria mortality – with morethan 6.2 million malaria deaths averted between 2001 – 2015. However, malaria remains a major cause and consequence of poverty and inequity worldwide. It impedes economic development, undermines food security,stops children going to school, and absorbs the capacity of national systems to respond effectively to health security threats.
On the release of this comprehensive new vision, the United Nations Secretary-General, BAN-Ki-moon noted:“Reaching our 2030 global malaria goals will not only save millions of lives, it will reduce poverty and create healthier, more equitable societies. Ensuring the continued reduction and elimination of malaria will generate benefits for entire communities, businesses, agriculture, health systems and households.” The United Nations Secretary-General continued, “Transforming our understanding of the powerful return on investment of ending malaria deaths into dynamic and effective action on the ground will be essential to realizing the future we want, where all people enjoy the equality and dignity they deserve.”
The result of worldwide expert consultation with regions, countries and affected communities, the complementary Global Technical Strategy for Malariaand AIM documents share the 2016-2030 timeline of the UN SDGs and provide milestones to measure progress. Together, the documents layout the technical strategies required to continue driving down the burden of malaria, while charting the investment and collective actions needed to reach the 2030 malaria goals of reducing global malaria case incidence and deaths by 90% – compared to 2015 – and eliminating the disease in an additional 35 countries.
“The new2030 malaria goals – and the 2020 and 2025 milestones laid out in the WHO and RBM strategies – are ambitious but achievable,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. “We must accelerate progress toward malaria elimination to ensure that neither parasite resistance to drugs, mosquito resistance to insecticides, nor malaria resurgence unravels the tremendous gains to date. We can and must achieve even greater impact to protect the investment the global community has made.”
While completely preventable and treatable, WHO has estimated that there will be 214 million cases of malaria infection in 2015, claiming the lives of approximately 472,000 people,the majority of them African children under five years of age.Despite unprecedented progress to-date, more than half of the world’s population remainsat risk of malaria infection today.
Adequate and predictable financing and innovations for new tools will be critical to scale-up interventions and reach the WHO/RBM targets of malaria elimination. In RBM’s AIM document, experts outline that over US $100 billion is needed to achieve 2030 target of reducing the malaria burden by 90%, with an additional US$ 10 billion needed to fund research and development of new tools, including new drugs and insecticides. To achieve the first milestone of reducing malaria incidence and mortality rates by 40%, annual malaria investments will need to rise to US$6.4 billionby 2020.
While total international and domestic funding peaked at US $2.7 billion in 2013, current declines in international development financingis impacting the world’s ability to maintain progress against malaria.Acceleration toward malaria elimination will require increased financing by the international donor community, as well as increased domestic financing by affected countries.
“Investing to achieve the new 2030 malaria goals will avert nearly 3 billion malaria cases and save over 10 million lives. If we are able to reach these targets, the world stands to generate US $4 trillion of additional economic output across the 2016-2030 timeframe,” said Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “Now, more than ever, we must re-focus our efforts and re-commit our budgets so we can continue saving lives and unlock economic potential in communities around the world.”
At a cost of US $5-8 per case averted, malaria has continually proven to be one of the most cost-effective investments in public health, with relatively low investments yielding high results even beyond the health sector, and experts estimate that the return will only continue growing as countries begin focusing on elimination targets. New analysis in AIM reveals that the global return on investment of achieving the 2030 malaria goalsis 40:1, rising to an unprecedented 60:1 for sub-Saharan Africa. This reinforces the evidence that continued efforts to reduce the burden of malaria have the potential to stimulate transformative and inclusive growth.
Malaria reduction and elimination will be critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and will help advance development efforts across sectors by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, increasing gender parity and improving maternal and child health. Lives saved from effective malaria interventions have been linked to a 20% reduction in all-cause child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, while efforts to prevent malaria in pregnancy have averted nearly 95,000 newborn deaths between 2009 and 2012.These numbers represent an entire generation given the chance to live healthy lives and grow into strong, contributing members of society.