Malaria cases have shot up in Nigeria, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to statistics from the 2017 World Malaria Report.
This is coming at the time that the world has set a target to eliminate the disease by 90 per cent in 2030.
Experts at the World Health Organisation who coordinated and researched the figures said these increases may deter progress made in the fight against the disease and they called on governments in the three countries to double their efforts.
According to the 2017 report, about 216 million malaria-related cases and 445,000 persons died of complications related to the disease in 2016.
It warned that a resurgence is on the rise and progress made so far in some countries where the disease has been eliminated could be jeopardised.
“At 445,000 deaths, there was minimal change since 2015, and malaria cases went up for the first time in a decade, to a total of 216 million.
An estimated $2.7bn was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally. However, this amount falls far short of what is needed to achieve global elimination targets of reducing malaria cases and deaths globally by 40 per cent in 2020.”
The report identified poor and insufficient domestic and international investments as factors that contributed to new cases recorded in some countries.
It, however, identified major gaps in the coverage of insecticide-treated nets and other life-saving medicines and tools as reasons why malaria cases had increased in these three countries.
Eleven of the 21 countries identified by the WHO as having the potential to reach zero indigenous cases in 2020 reported increases in malaria since 2015. Five of them, Botswana, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Swaziland have reported increases of more than 100 cases in 2016 compared with the previous year.
If the trend continues, the WHO said, the target of a 40 per cent reduction in case incidence and mortality by 2020 will be missed.
There were some gains, it said. Globally, the number of countries that were malaria endemic in 2000 and reported fewer than 10,000 cases increased from 37 in 2010 to 44 in 2016.
For the second consecutive year, the WHO European region continued to be malaria free and the coverage rates of access to insecticide treated bednets increased across most regions in 2016 when compared with 2010.
Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka were certified malaria-free by the WHO in 2016, and Algeria, which remained malaria free in 2016, is now eligible.
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