Photograph — VOCFM

In 2018, Nigeria topped a group of six countries that accounted for more than half of all malaria cases, leading with 25 percent of all the cases according to the World Malaria Report released late last year.

Similarly, it contributed 24 percent of all malaria deaths totally, closely followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with 11 percent, Tanzania (five percent) and Niger, Mozambique and Angola at four percent each.

Africa still bears the largest burden of malaria, with 213 million cases (or 93 percent) in 2018. Although case incidence levels on the continent declined from 294 in 2010 to 229 in 2018 – a 22 percent reduction in incidence. But the rate of change also appeared to slow between 2014 and 2018. From 60 in 2013, it reduced to 57 in 2014 and remained at similar levels through to 2018.

Globally, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred in 2018, compared with 251 million cases in 2010 and 231 million cases in 2017. Across the 11 high burden high impact (HBHI) countries globally, there were about 155 million estimated malaria cases in 2018, compared with 177 million in 2010. The number of deaths declined by some 140,000 – from about 400,000 in 2010 to about 260,000 in 2018.

Despite the reduction in the number of malaria cases and deaths, however, progress has stalled globally in high burden countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) says in the report.

“While the gains to date are impressive, the global malaria challenge remains enormous and the level of progress is slowing down,” the report said.

Some of the factors that have contributed to stalling and raising the number of infections include the underlying intensity of malaria transmission, socio-demographic and epidemiologic risk factors as well as poor access to care.

Funding constraints have also been highlighted as a contributing factor. From 2016 to 2018, there has been a steady decline in donor funding, thereby affecting the fight against malaria as the endemic countries rely heavily on international funders.

The WHO’s World Malaria Report provides a comprehensive update on global and regional malaria data and trends, as well as tracks investments in malaria programs and research, and progress across all intervention areas.

The 2019 report summarizes global progress in the fight against malaria up to the end of 2018, based on information received from over 80 countries and areas with ongoing malaria transmission. It is the fourth edition since the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria (2016–2030) was launched.

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