Uganda is among five countries that accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases in worldwide, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Uganda accounted for 4% of the global malaria cases while Nigeria (25%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo accounted for 25% and 11% respectively. The other two countries are Mozambique (5%) and India (4%).
The report which was released this week indicates that fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa along with India carried almost 80% of the global malaria burden.
The incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2017, from 72 to 59 cases per 1,000 population at risk, according to the findings. While this represents an 18% reduction over the period, the number of cases per 1,000 population at risk has stood at 59 for the past 3 years.
An estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2017 compared with 239 million cases in 2010 and 217 million cases in 2016. Most malaria cases in 2017 were in Africa (200 million or 92%).
It was discovered that Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite in the WHO African Region, accounting for 99.7% of estimated malaria cases in 2017.
An estimated 435,000 people died as a result of malaria in 2017 globally, compared with 451,000 estimated deaths in 2016, and 607,000 in 2010. Out of the 435,000 deaths registered in 2017, Africa accounted for 93%. Majority (nearly 80%) of these deaths occurred in 17 countries including Nigeria (19%), DRC, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Niger and India.
“Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2017, they accounted for 61% (266,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide,” the report states.
The outstanding cause of malaria related deaths among children (under 5 years) and pregnant women was found to be anaemia.
“Data from household surveys conducted in 16 high-burden African countries between 2015 and 2017 show that, among children aged under 5 years, the prevalence of any anaemia was 61%, mild anaemia 25%, moderate anaemia 33% and severe anaemia 3%”.
Of children who tested positive for malaria, the prevalence of any anaemia was 79%, mild anaemia 21%, moderate anaemia 50% and severe anaemia 8%.
On the preventative measures, the report reveals that half of people at risk of malaria in Africa are sleeping under an Insecticide Treated Net (ITN). In 2017 alone, 50% of the population was protected by this intervention, an increase from 29% in 2010.
The percentage of the population with access to a mosquito net increased from 33% in 2010 to 56% in 2017.
Regarding treatment of malaria, the findings by WHO cite poor access to health care providers or lack of awareness of malaria symptoms among caregivers as contributing to the high proportion of children with fever who did not receive any medical attention. The problem is related to household income and location, according to the report.
WHO quotes national surveys which indicate that the percentage of children with fever brought for care was higher in wealthier households compared with poorer households. Similarly, more urban dwellers took their children for medical care compared to those in rural areas.
WHO is recommending the uptake of integrated community case management which promotes integrated management of common life-threatening conditions in children – malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea – at health facility and community levels. In 2017, of 21 African countries with high malaria burden, 20 had iCCM policies in place, of which 12 had started implementing those policies.
On the aspect of funding, the report states that in 2017, an estimated US$ 3.1 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally by governments and international partners. Nearly three quarters (US$ 2.2 billion) of this investment was spent in Africa.
A big chunk (39%) of the foreign financing was given by the United States of America (USA). US$ 1.3 billion was channeled through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.