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Up for discussion at the World Health Assembly in May: malaria

Ambitious goals to reach a world free of malaria, contained in a draft global strategy released in March, are set to be discussed at the World Health Assembly next month. The strategy for malaria post 2015, proposes milestones and goals for 2020, 2025 and 2030, and aims to reduce malaria mortality and case incidents globally by 90% by 2030. Furthermore, it aims to eliminate this often fatal disease from at least 35 countries in which malaria was transmitted in 2015 and prevent re-establishment of malaria in all countries that are now malaria free.

In 2013, almost half of the population at risk (49%) had access to an insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN) in their household, compared with 3% in 2004, according to the World Health Organization World Malaria Report 2014. In addition, 123 million people — representing 3.5% of the global population at risk — were protected from malaria through the use of indoor residual spraying. In the WHO African Region, 55 million people (7% of the population at risk) were protected; a decrease from 11% in 2010. The decline is due to a withdrawal or downsizing of spraying programmes in some countries.

Despite impressive increases in malaria intervention coverage, it is estimated that, in 2013, 278 million of the 840 million people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa lived in households without even a single ITN, 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women did not receive even a single dose of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), and between 56 and 69 million children with malaria did not receive artemisinin-based combination therapy. Poverty and low levels of education are significant determinants of lack of access to these essential services.

Pharmacists around the world are already contributing to a world free of malaria, for example, by giving preventive advice to travellers. They are also helping to ensure appropriate treatment. In Ghana, for instance, community pharmacists are allowed to treat malaria based on rapid diagnostic test results. But more can be done to ensure all those at risk receive appropriate preventive measures, diagnostic testing and treatment.

Today is World Malaria Day and the WHO is inviting stakeholders to “Invest in the future. Defeat malaria.” We invite you to take a look at the draft strategy and think about how you might contribute to the fulfilment of the global strategy goals.