A new report by the World Health Organisation has stated that 400, 000 persons died of malaria infections in 2015.
In a report released in Geneva, Switzerland as part of activities to celebrate the World Malaria Day on Monday, WHO estimated that 21 countries including six African countries, would eliminate local transmission of malaria by 2020.
The global body in the report titled, “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030,” said there had been a significant reduction in the population of children and adults dying of the disease in the last one year.
It also stated that in addition to Europe, eight countries including Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates witnessed a great reduction in malaria-induced deaths.
The Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr. Pedro Alonso, noted that government must invest in new malaria control technologies, if Africa must meet global targets towards eliminating the disease by 2030.
He said, “WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.
“Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60 per cent globally. In the African region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66 per cent among all age groups and by 71 per cent among children under five years.
“But reaching the next level elimination will not be easy. Nearly half of the world’s population, 3.2 billion people, remain at the risk of malaria. Last year alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and more than 400 000 people died of malaria.”
Alonso stated that even though infections rates had decreased especially in children, Africa still accounted for more than 90 per cent of the deaths recorded from the disease in 2015.
He added, “New technologies must go hand in hand with strong political and financial commitments. Governments must strengthen surveillance of cases to identify gaps in coverage and be prepared to take action based on the information received.
“As countries approach elimination, the ability to detect every infection becomes increasingly important. This strategy will require an increase in global and domestic funding from $2.5bn today to an estimated $8.7bn annually by 2030.”
Meanwhile, the Cross Rivers State government has promised to increase funding of malaria research by Nigerian scientists.
The state Governor, Ben Ayade, said this while unveiling the 2016 World Malaria Day in Calabar.
Represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, at the event on Monday, Ayade urged researchers to send their research proposals to the state government through the state Ministry of Health for consideration.
“We are calling on researchers to put forward their research proposals through the state Ministry of Health for consideration. We will support good research proposals that would lead to the total eradication of malaria in the state.
“We have recruited the best brains into our primary healthcare centres to lower the cases of malaria in the state,” he said.
However, the Director-General, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Beta Edu, said the state government had commenced the distribution of 20, 000 bed nets to curb the spread of the disease.
Edu said the agency was reaching out to schools in the state capital to educate their pupils on the need to sleep under mosquito treated nets.
Also, the Nasarawa State Programme Manager of Malaria Elimination Programme Manager, Dr. Harri Bala, said that 71 per cent of residents in the state received insecticide-treated mosquito nets across the 13 local government areas of the state.
Bala lamented that out of this percentage, only about 33 per cent of people were making proper use of the net.