Malaria eradication a realistic goal in the next 10-15 years, says GlobalData

With an estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurring across 91 countries in 2016, halting the transmission of the malaria parasite is a critical step to achieving this goal

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New Delhi: This year’s theme, of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) celebration of World Malaria Day – 25th April – is ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’. The theme highlights the collective goal of the global malaria community—a malaria-free world, says GlobalData a leading data and analytics company. With an estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurring across 91 countries in 2016, halting the transmission of the malaria parasite is a critical step to achieving this goal.

Gilbert Saint Jean, PhD, GlobalData Pharma Analyst, commented, ‘‘With promising infection- and transmission-blocking malaria vaccines in the R&D pipeline as well as public-private partnerships (PPPs) advancing novel mosquito control tools—such as new classes of insecticides, and microbiological* and genetic (sterile male) approaches to controlling mosquito populations— we anticipate that malaria eradication will begin to become a realistic goal in the next 10–15 years.’’

An international effort is required to finance the R&D product development and public health administration necessary to block transmission and achieve disease eradication. The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the US President’s Malaria Initiative; and other country-level bilateral and multilateral entities support these efforts. Alongside academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies, these stakeholders are largely responsible for a strong malaria R&D pipeline, coming through in 2018.

Malaria cases are highest in countries classified by the World Bank as low-to-middle income nations, including countries in the WHO Africa region, which carries 90% of the global malaria burden, and the WHO South East region, which carries 7% of global malaria burden. The concerns of drug and insecticide resistance persist, with the WHO admitting that current tools and methods are inadequate for achieving the eradication of the disease.

Saint Jean continued, ‘‘Despite these obstacles, there are reasons to remain hopeful as the current campaign gains traction. For example, Sri Lanka was declared malaria free in 2016. In Southern Africa, the Elimination 8 Strategic Plan (2015–2020) is focusing on eradicating malaria in eight countries (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe), with four of these countries targeting malaria elimination by 2020.’’

Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease spread by mosquitos and has plagued humans since the dawn of time. The previous global eradication campaign from the 1950s–1960s resulted in disease elimination in some countries, but drug and insecticide resistance have contributed to undermining those efforts.