Malaria has historically been one of the most devastating and proliferated diseases on the planet earth. The large amount of support, research, and efforts in recent years has seen it reduced to a much less prominent disease, but even those days could be coming to a close in the relative future.
According to the University of California, UC San Francisco’s Global Health Group’s (GHG) Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) recently published a study in The Lancet that says complete eradication of malaria is possible within a generation.
It won’t necessarily be easy, though, the reports says. The researchers also noted that only through a renewed focus, the proper tools, and adequate financial funding could this goal be possible.
“Eradicating malaria will require nothing short of unwavering support at all levels — national, regional, and global. With intense focus, new tools, and adequate financial resources, a malaria-free world is possible within a generation,” said Sir Richard Feachem, KBE, FREng, DSc(Med), Ph.D., director of the UCSF Global Health Groupand the paper’s senior author. “The malaria map is shrinking rapidly. More than 20 countries are on track to eliminate by 2020 and over 60 can do it by 2030. We cannot let up now. To achieve the ambitious but attainable goal of malaria eradication by 2040, the targets we set must be as big and bold as our aspirations.”
The study looked at the progress of 35 countries currently working to eliminate the disease and also how far the field has come in a relatively short time. Feachem was quick to point out that malaria was the leading cause of death in almost every country in the world not-so-long-ago.
According to a study published in the journal Nature and co-authored by researchers at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, efforts to fight malaria across the continent of Africa have cut the rate of infections in half since 2000. Since that time, the rate of malaria has dropped by about 91% in countries working towards elimination.
Today, approximately half of the countries around the world have eradicated the disease within their borders. Every year more and more countries achieve or get closer to becoming certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization.
Take Sri Lanka for example. In 2000 there were over 200,000 reported cases of malaria in the country. In 2013 there were no reported cases. They will apply for certified status this year.
Just because things are trending in the right direction doesn’t mean it’s OK to start letting up. Quite the opposite, in fact. The researchers emphasized that it’s only through persistent efforts that global eradication of this historically harmful disease can be attained.