Imperial College London

Prof Azra Ghani attends WHO World Malaria Report Launch in UK Parliament

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World Malaria Report 2017 - Progress has stalled

Malaria Modelling Group Lead Azra Ghani joined on All-Party Group on Malaria and NTDs panel for parliamentary launch of WHO 2017 World Malaria Report

Head of Imperial's Malaria Modelling Research Group, Professor Azra Ghani yesterday joined the All-Party Group on Malaria and NTDs panel for the parliamentary launch of this year's World Malaria Report published by the World Health Organisation.

The launch event, held at the House of Lords on 29th November 2017, was organised In conjunction with UK charity Malaria No More UK and attended by other stakeholder groups in industry, researchers, diplomats and politicians, including Medicines for Malaria Venture, FIND Diagnostics, PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Rentokil Initial, the Kenyan High Commission, the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC), Malaria Consortium, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Imperial College London researchers.

Key Messages from launch

In 2000, the world committed to protect millions of people from preventable and treatable diseases. Since then, thanks to significant investment, strong political leadership and the development and distribution of new tools, we have seen a marked decline in malaria cases and deaths, saving almost 7 million lives from this deadly disease.

The past decade’s success put the world on a path to ending malaria for good. But today, our hard-earned success is fragile and uneven, bringing the decline in deaths and cases to a halt and putting our tremendous progress at risk. While long-term trends show progress, the 2017 World Malaria Report demonstrates that this progress is fragile and uneven.

Today, we are at a crossroads. The opportunity to save millions more lives is up to us – that’s the mark of success or failure. We need to renew global commitment to continue down the path of progress towards ending malaria for good

– Professor Azra Ghani

Chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology

2017 World Malaria Report Summary

This year’s World Malaria Report is a wake-up call showing that the phenomenal year on year progress that has been made against malaria since 2000 has started to stall with 2016 data showing:

216 million cases of malaria in 2016, with 90% in Africa.  Whilst there has been an 18% cut in malaria case rates since 2010, this year’s data shows a stalling of this trend as overall progress has slowed significantly, with an increase of 5 million cases in total since 2015.

445,000 malaria deaths in 2016, that’s over 50 deaths every single hour (90% in Africa). Whilst global mortality rates have dropped by 32% since 2010, overall progress slowed significantly between 2015-2016, with increases in many areas. A child still dies from malaria every 2 minutes.

Funding has plateaued with contributions totalling US$2.7billion in 2016. The US and UK remain the two largest international donors. Over half of all international funding (57%) was channelled through the Global Fund in 2016. 31% of total funding was from malaria affected country governments (US$800million). Given the increase in populations and new tools in the pipeline more funding is urgently needed to build on progress.

Progress is uneven, with some countries accelerating towards elimination and others reversing that trend:

  • 44 countries that were malaria edemic in 2000 reported less than 10,000 malaria cases in 2016 – including 10 countries successfully eliminating malaria since 2010;
  • Uneven spread of progress and resurgence in malaria cases between 2015-16, with 16 countries reporting a >20% decrease in cases and 25 reporting a >20% increase - from over 800k less cases in Madagascar to over 800k more cases in Rwanda;
  • Overall there has been continued progress in increasing coverage of key interventions, but this still falls short of the universal coverage targets. Highlighted changes include: 54% of African population now sleeping under an ITN (from 30% in 2010); BUT this means 46% of people still do not have access to this protection; 87% of fevers suspected as malaria seen in African Public health facilities were tested - a phenomenal increase from just 36% in 2010. This is positive for those that make it to see a health worker, BUT still 39% of children sick with fevers did not get access to any form of healthcare.

Drug and Insecticide resistance remain dual and emerging threats to progress. The report highlights the need for more R&D into new tools. The emerging drug resistance in the Greater Mekong Sub-region remains a focus were efforts are being made to maintain it. While insecticide resistance is more widespread and action should be taken to mitigate the risk of resistance growing further, nets and indoor spraying remain efficacious tools for malaria prevention.

Malaria represents one of the biggest public health success stories in recent times and great value for money investment. With concerted political attention, increased action and investment by affected countries, donors and partners we can – and must - put the world back on track towards a malaria free world.

Dr. Samir Bhatt, Lecturer in the Malaria Modelling Research Group and with the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), University of Oxford, who contributed to the development of estimates [for intervention coverage and parasite prevalence] included in this year's report stated:

"we know that nets work, and that we need more of them. However, without increasing funding we will never be able to close the coverage gaps that exist and lives will be lost. Huge progress has been made but we can’t congratulate and pat ourselves on the back yet, much more needs to be done to remain on target"

– Dr. Samir Bhatt

Lecturer in Geostatistics


Relevance to the UK

The UK has been a critical driver of success against malaria in the last decade. As the second-largest donor, and home to world class malaria research & scientific innovation, the UK has a critical role to play in galvanising and driving action to ensure the achievements of one generation are not lost to the next.

At this cross-roads moment, we need the UK to step up its leadership and investment on malaria to help revitalise and accelerate global progress – including a malaria focus at the UK hosted Commonwealth Summit in April next year would convene key leaders from the breadth of the malaria campaign and provide an opportunity to showcase the best of global Britain.

Commonwealth links

60% of global malaria deaths in 2016 occurred in 8 Commonwealth countries. Half of these in Nigeria. Commonwealth citizens continue to be disproportionately affected by malaria.

As 90% of the Commonwealth population live in malaria affected countries, accounting for 2/3 of the global population living at risk of malaria, without concerted Commonwealth action the global targets to cut malaria cases and deaths will remain in jeopardy.

In April 2018, the global community will have an opportunity to come together to renew and reinforce its commitment to end malaria. A High-Level Event on Malaria, during the Commonwealth Summit in London (#CHOGM2018), accompanied by a public campaign, will convene leaders across government, business, science and beyond to take bold action to the malaria fight.


Azra Ghani

Azra Ghani
School of Public Health

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5764

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Alison Reynolds

Alison Reynolds
School of Public Health

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Infectious-diseases, Public-health, Malaria
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