Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, has become a global menace. While a number of countries, including Sri Lanka, Algeria, Armenia, Morocco, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates have been declared as malaria-free nations by the World Health Organisation, the health experts now believe that it is possible to eradicated malaria from the globe within a generation.
This has been revealed during the review of malaria eradication commissioned by The Lancet medical journal recently. The Lancet Commission’s review comes a few weeks after the WHO published a report on Malaria, where it mentioned that malaria eradication cannot be achieved soon, and that is an unrealistic goal with unknown costs.
The Lancet Commission review came on Sunday where 41 specialists said a future free of malaria, one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases, can be achieved as early as 2050. This rightly contradicts the conclusions by WHO.
“For too long, malaria eradication has been a distant dream, but now we have evidence that malaria can and should be eradicated by 2050,” said Richard Feachem, director of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco. He co-chaired the review of malaria eradication commissioned by The Lancet medical journal.
However, the experts mentioned, to meet that target, governments, scientists and public health leaders need to inject more money and innovation into fighting the disease and the mosquitoes that carry it. The report said that it will require “ambition, commitment and partnership like never before”.
Feachem added, “We must … challenge ourselves with ambitious targets and commit to the bold action needed to meet them.”
The Lancet report also focused on how the global health authorities could “choose to commit to a time-bound eradication goal that will bring purpose, urgency and dedication” to the fight.
In the year 2017 alone, Malaria infected about 219 million people globally, killing around 435,000 of them. Out of those who killed, the vast majority consisted of babies and children in the poorest parts of Africa. In fact, given the ongoing transmission, malaria kills a child every two minutes even today, globally.
Martin Edlund, head of the campaign group Malaria No More, said, “If we double down on ending malaria now, the world will reap massive social, humanitarian and economic benefits and save millions of people from needlessly dying from mosquito bites.”
Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, a Tanzanian doctor who co-chaired The Lancet Commission, said malaria eradication was “a public health and equity imperative”.
To eradicate the disease completely by 2050, the experts proposed three ways to speed up malaria’s decline. First, the existing malaria-fighting tools such as bednets, medicines and insecticides should be used more smartly. Second, the new tools such as vaccines should be developed. Third, the governments in both malaria-affected and malaria-free countries need to boost investment to accelerate progress.