Health, wealth

The WHO has urged the countries affected by the disease globally to accelerate the reach of high-impact tools and strategies to prevent, detect and treat malaria, with a focus on reaching the most vulnerable, ensuring that no person is left behind. In the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis, the world is not on track to reach the two critical targets of the WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for malaria 2016-2030: reducing global case incidence and mortality by 90 per cent or more by 2030, based on 2015 levels, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for South-East Asia, said.In 2021, an estimated 619,000 people globally died of malaria compared to 625,000 in 2020. There were an estimated 247 million new cases of malaria, compared to 245 million in 2020, Singh said. By the end of 2020, the South-East Asia Region was the only WHO region to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in malaria case incidence and mortality compared to 2015, the first GTS milestone, she stated.Amid the COVID-19 response, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have maintained their malaria-free status, and five countries of the region – Bhutan, DPR Korea, Nepal, Thailand and Timor-Leste – are among 25 countries and one territory globally identified as having the potential to eliminate malaria by 2025. In 2022, health ministers from across the region unanimously endorsed a statement on ‘Renewed Commitment for Malaria Elimination’, emphasizing the urgent need to scale up proven implementation strategies.