GENEVA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria warmly congratulated Algeria and Argentina for earning WHO certification as malaria-free and called on global partners to step up the fight to end the disease.
“This is a historic achievement by Algeria and Argentina,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “It demonstrates once again that malaria can be defeated in both Africa and in South America. Ending malaria is demonstrably an achievable goal, but it takes leadership, commitment, and rigorous implementation to make it happen.”
The announcement was made during this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, convening delegates from WHO’s 194 member states. This year, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of universal health coverage and ending epidemics as essential components for a healthier, safer, fairer world.
Globally, there are two tracks on malaria. A significant number of countries are progressing toward malaria elimination. But in too many of the highest-burden countries, malaria rates are increasing, and there is greater drug and insecticide resistance.
In the last five years, four other countries have been certified as malaria-free: Maldives, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. The number of malaria-free countries now totals 106, outnumbering the 88 countries which remain malaria endemic. In 2016, WHO identified 21 countries spanning five regions with the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020.
“We have made extraordinary progress in the fight against malaria, yet a child still dies of malaria every two minutes,” said Sands. “We need to step up the fight – achieving elimination wherever possible and breaking the transmission cycle and thus get on track towards elimination in the hardest-hit countries.”
After years of steady decline, malaria cases are on the rise. Mosquitoes in Africa are developing resistance to the most common insecticides used to treat mosquito nets, and the Mekong region is seeing growing resistance to the world’s most successful malaria drug. Environmental factors, funding shortfalls and demographics pose severe challenges in the highest-burden countries.
The Global Fund provides nearly 60 percent of all international financing for malaria and has invested more than US$11.4 billion in malaria control programs in more than 100 countries from 2002-2018.
The Global Fund is seeking to raise at least US$14 billion for the coming three-year period to help save 16 million lives, cut the mortality rate from HIV, TB and malaria in half, and build stronger health systems by working together to end the epidemics. France will convene the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment pledging conference in October 2019 in Lyon, France.