World Malaria Day is observed every year on this date, 25th April, to raise awareness about the global effort to combat malaria, a life-threatening disease that claims many lives each year.
The theme for World Malaria Day 2023 is “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement”. This theme highlights the need for urgent action, increased investments, and innovations to accelerate progress in the fight to end malaria. The global community, including leaders in malaria-endemic countries and donor countries, is coming together to ensure that investments made to date deliver maximum impact.
Progress in the Fight Against Malaria
Since 2000, significant progress has been made in the fight. Global partnership and sustained investment have transformed control and prevention against the disease. It has led to a reduction of total cases by 41% and a decrease in related deaths by 66% globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of cases decreased from 251 million in 2010 to 229 million in 2019. Meanwhile, related deaths dropped from 655,000 in 2010 to 409,000 in 2019.
Despite the progress made, there is a shortfall of more than 50% in global malaria funding. This is currently holding countries back from maintaining life-saving malaria programs at current levels. Consequently, they are putting people in these countries living at risk of malaria. Many countries are experiencing funding gaps, and this has added to declining progress in the countries with the highest burden of malaria. Without a further commitment to scale up and roll out innovative interventions, countries will not reap the rewards of recent investments in research and development.
Emerging biological threats, such as drug resistance and insecticide resistance, put current and future progress at risk. Fortunately, recent investments in research and development have produced the most robust pipeline of interventions in over a decade to address these threats and change the fight against the disease. Countries and partners are working tirelessly to tailor and deliver lifesaving tools to the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. However, low coverage of existing tools, coupled with emerging biological threats and funding gaps, is brewing a perfect storm for the disease to fester.
Invest, Innovate, Implement
This year’s World Malaria Day theme underscores the need for urgent action, further investment, and innovations to deliver maximum impact in the fight. Leaders in malaria-endemic and donor countries must quickly deliver bold investments in malaria control and elimination to bridge critical funding gaps and accelerate progress. Urgent investment from the public and private sectors is also required to deliver and tailor transformative and better solutions to end the disease. Country governments and communities around the world must continue to demonstrate leadership, and adopt innovative and sustainable approaches. Subsequently, they will need to scale up national malaria programs. This will allow them to target and deliver lifesaving tools to those who need them most.
World Malaria Day is an opportunity for the global community to raise awareness and recommit to the fight. This year’s theme, “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement”, underscores the need for increased investment, innovation, and action to accelerate progress in this ongoing fight. Governments, communities, and partners must continue to work together. Collectively, they can reduce the global burden that this disease carries. Finally, they will ensure that everyone living at risk has access to lifesaving tools and interventions.