WHO reports ‘dramatic’ decrease in malaria deaths

The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases also are steadily declining, according to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2014.

Between 2000 and 2013, the report says, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47 percent worldwide. In the WHO African Region – where about 90 percent of malaria deaths occur – the decrease is 54 percent.

The Dec. 9 report estimates that, globally, 670 million fewer cases and 4.3 million fewer malaria deaths occurred between 2001 and 2013 than would have occurred had incidence and mortality rates remained unchanged since 2000.

The use of insecticide-treated bed nets is one important reason for the drop, the report said. Between 2000 and 2013, access to bed nets increased substantially.

In 2013, 49 percent of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net — a marked increase from just 3 percent in 2004. This trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.

Since April 2010, The United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative has distributed more than 2.3 million bed nets, and is less than $10 million shy of its goal to raise $75 million by 2015 to dramatically reduce deaths and suffering in Africa.

“In the countries where we work, national net coverage averages range from about 50 percent to 90 percent,” said Dr. Olusimbo Ige, director of Global Health at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

The church’s work has targeted communities where access to nets is low. “Our grants in the last two years have contributed to increasing net ownership to 98 percent in Bo district in Sierra Leone, 90 percent in Maniema (Democratic Republic of Congo) and 90 percent in Yei, South Sudan,” Ige said.

Acting in partnership

The Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director for Global Health Initiatives for United Methodist Communications, said The United Methodist Church has been a good international partner in this global effort.

“Reduction of death from malaria is only possible on this scale because of the integration of efforts. This report helps us to know that we are on the right path and should inspire United Methodist to stay the course,” he explained.  

The malaria-specific Millennium Development Goal to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015 already has been met in 64 countries. In 2013, two countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time, and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases. Another four countries reported fewer than 10 local cases annually.

Despite these victories, malaria remains a major threat and greater global commitment is necessary for success. In 2013, one-third of households in areas with malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a single insecticide treated net, the report noted. Approximately $5.1 billion is needed annually to achieve malaria control and, eventually, elimination but current annual funds remain around $2.7 billion.  

“We can win the fight against malaria,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general. “We have the right tools and our defenses are working, but we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable.”

Butler is a multimedia producer/editor for United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.

Wesley’s Chapel makes history relevant today

The Methodist congregation at Bermondsey offers practical assistance and the spirit of Jesus to a diverse community.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough gives his address April 29 at the spring 2018 meeting of the Council of Bishops in Chicago. Photo by Anne Marie Gerhardt, Northern Illinois Conference.

Bishops begin high-stakes deliberations

Council of Bishops president said the church is watching as bishops finalize recommendations aimed at fending off church splits over homosexuality.