As the world observes ‘World Malaria Day’ on 25th April, latest WHO report estimated 43% of people are at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
In sub-Saharan Africa, which shoulders 90% of the global malaria burden, more than 663 million cases have been averted since 2001. Insecticide-treated nets have had the greatest impact, accounting for an estimated 69% of cases prevented through control tools.
Together with diagnosis and treatment, WHO recommends a package of proven prevention approaches, including insecticide-treated nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for the most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, under-fives and infants.
WHO says people were not protected by either a net or indoor insecticide spraying in 2015.
“WHO-recommended tools have made a measurable difference in the global malaria fight,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “But we need a much bigger push for prevention – especially in Africa, which bears the greatest burden of malaria.”
Approximately 69% of pregnant women in 20 African countries did not have access to the recommended 3 or more doses of preventive treatment.
Some targeted prevention approaches have been adopted by countries as policy, but the actual uptake has been slow. Preventive treatment for infants, for example, which is safe, cost-effective and well accepted by health workers and communities, is currently only being implemented in Sierra Leone.
Across the Sahel, where most malaria cases and deaths among children occur in the rainy season, WHO recommends seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), a preventive therapy shown to reduce new cases of severe malaria in young children by approximately 75%. As of 2015, 10 countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo – had adopted WHO’s SMC policy and begun implementing it.