UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – Malaria has stopped falling for the first time in 10 years, raising fears of a resurgence of the deadly disease.
Experts, as well as the Bill Gates Foundation, urged leaders of countries gathered at the Commonwealth Summit in London to pledge more money to fight the disease.
In 2016, nearly half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria.
Some 216 million people have contracted the disease in 91 countries, up 5 million from 2015.
Experts warn that without more money and action to combat the disease, the world may see more cases of malaria, and then an increase in deaths.
Rates of infection are steadily increasing in some parts of the Americas, South and East Asia, and the Western Pacific and Africa regions, although infection rates are stable or declining elsewhere.
Mosquitoes are part of the problem, along with pathogenic parasites and their spread, which in turn has contributed to the development of resistance to weapons used to fight disease, such as insecticides and antimalarial drugs.
A new set of treatments is on the horizon.
An experimental drug, Moskirx, is currently used to immunize young children in some parts of Africa; home to 90 per cent of malaria cases and 91 per cent of deaths.
Experts say a new international commitment could save 650,000 people across the Commonwealth.
Elimination of malaria
The British government said it would invest 500 million pounds a year over three years to combat the disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will increase its investment in malaria control by $ 1 billion by 2023.
“Millions of people are at risk today, economies are falling, and Malaria is getting a baby’s life every two minutes,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May. “That’s why I called for a new pledge to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023,” he said.
“Malaria is at a crossroads now … Malaria is a disease that may have killed humans more than any other disease in history,” said James Whiting of the UK’s No Malaria Society.