Malaria eradication: rising incidence shows there is a long road ahead

28 January 2019 (Last Updated January 28th, 2019 15:16)

After two decades of decline, malaria cases are significantly increasing in some parts of the world, especially Africa, prompting concern that much more is needed to combat the epidemic.

Malaria eradication: rising incidence shows there is a long road ahead

After two decades of decline, malaria cases are significantly increasing in some parts of the world, especially Africa, prompting concern that much more is needed to combat the epidemic.

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and treatable, yet an estimated 33.2 million people with confirmed incident cases of malaria in the 6MM (the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC], Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and Indonesia) were recorded.

Figure 1 presents the confirmed incident cases of malaria in men and women of all ages in the 6MM from 2017 to 2027.  GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in confirmed incident cases of malaria in the 6MM from approximately 33.2 million cases in 2017 to approximately 40 million cases in 2027, with an approximate Annual Growth Rate (AGR) of 2.00% during the forecast period.

The DRC had the highest number of cases in 2017 with approximately 16 million cases, while Indonesia had the lowest number of cases with approximately 195,000 cases. Although the overall number of cases is expected to increase, there is expected to be a decrease in the number of cases in Indonesia, from 1.9 million cases to 1.7 million cases.

The previous success of lowering malaria cases worldwide was due to political commitment, reaching marginalised populations, and efficiently using resources such as bed nets and drugs. However, in many parts of Africa, marginalised and vulnerable communities still do not have access to treatment and prevention resources, leaving them prone to infection.

Another rising issue is that the mosquitoes and parasites that spread and cause malaria are developing resistance to the insecticides and antimalarial drugs used to fight them. New treatments are on the horizon, but developments take time and money, and global funding to combat malaria has plateaued.