We are 'far from a malaria-free world' - WHO report

Anne Soy

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Malaria experts have warned that the world will not be able to bring the disease under control using currently available means.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a target of reducing the number of cases and deaths by 90% by the year 2030, but even with the most optimistic projections, a team of scientists and public health specialists say the goal cannot be achieved.

Their report reveals that the mosquito nets, insecticides, diagnostic tests and treatments being used today were developed decades ago.

The scientists say that new methods need to be developed - but this could cost billions.

The projected benefits are huge – two billion cases of malaria and four million deaths would be prevented.

A nurse administers a vaccine to a child at Ewin Polyclinic in Cape Coast on in April 2019.

Malaria is one of the world’s biggest killers. Each year, about 400,000 people – mostly children in Africa – die from the disease.

Progress towards ending malaria has stalled globally.

The team of experts advising the WHO on malaria eradication say that between the years 2000 and 2015 the number of cases declined by more than a fifth, and deaths fell by half. But since then, nothing much has changed.

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Steep spike in malaria in Uganda

There's been a 40 per cent rise in malaria over the same period last year
The Ugandan health ministry says one million people have had malaria in the past two months. Government officials say prolonged rainfall in June, and a reduction in the use of mosquito bed-nets are to blame. So what is being done? Over to Dr Jimmy Opigo – Assistant Commissioner of Health Services at Uganda's National Malaria Control Programme.

(Picture: Couple under mosquito net; Credit: Science Photo Library)

Uganda's malaria surge 'linked to climate change'

Patience Atuhaire

BBC Africa, Kampala

A mosquito perched on a human being
Getty Images
Uganda's mosquito-control unit has been hampered by inadequate funding of late

More than one million people have been infected with malaria in Uganda in the last two months, officials have said.

The health ministry has attributed the rapid rise partly to climate change, with the disease now appearing in regions that were previously malaria-free thanks to a mild climate.

This time of year is normally a peak malaria season, but prolonged June rains seem to have created an even more fertile breeding environment for the mosquitoes that transmit the infectious disease.

There has been a 40% increase in cases reported in the same period last year, according to a statement by the ministry.

The government said there had also been a reduction in use of mosquito bed-nets, as those distributed in 2017 had begun to age.

In an effort to stem rising cases, the Ugandan government distributed 38 million mosquito bed-nets to households across the country between February 2017 and March 2018.

Burundi, another East African country, is currently battling a malaria epidemic.

According to the UN, there have been nearly six million cases since January and more than 1,800 people have been killed by the disease this year.

Burundi disputes WHO malaria figures

Bernard Bankukira

BBC Great Lakes

Burundi’s government has disputed a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the scale of malaria in the country.

Eariler this week WHO said that malaria cases have reached epidemic proportions.

The report found more than five million cases of malaria since the start of this year and said more than 1,800 people had died of the disease.

Burundi Health Minister Thaddée Ndikumana told journalists the figures were lower - 4.3 million recorded cases, with 1,400 deaths this year.

He said this compared favourably to figures in 2017, with 4.9 million cases and 4,300 deaths.

The disease, spread when female mosquitoes bite humans, kills almost half a million people worldwide each year.

GM mosquitoes released in Burkina Faso in malaria study

Anopheles Gambiae
Getty Images

Genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in Burkina Faso as part of an anti-malaria campaign.

While some critics have raised concerns, the scientists involved said the release, which was the first of its kind in Africa, represented a very important milestone.

Burkina Faso's Research Institute of Health Sciences, a government sponsored institution, released male genetically modified mosquitoes in the south-western town of Bana.

It is part of a project funded by Target Malaria, a research consortium led by Imperial College in London.

While the release was approved by the country's biosafety agency, critics have raised concerns about the risks involved and questioned the validity of the project saying it is not expected to deliver any benefits for malaria control.

Target Malaria says the release itself is not intended to reduce the incidence of malaria but says it will enable them to collect important data to inform their research.

The Research Institute says the mosquito release conforms to all ethical and regulatory requirements and that it was approved by the community during consultations.

Malaria killed more than 4,000 people in Burkina Faso last year and affected more than 12,000.

In May, a separate study in Burkina Faso showed that a fungus - genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin - could rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria.

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