> More investment needed in malaria battle in

World: More investment needed in malaria battle in

2014/04/25

Governments, development partners and the corporate sector should invest additional to sustain gains made in the fight against malaria to eliminate the disease, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Three out of four people are at risk of malaria in the Southeast Asia region, home to a quarter of the world’s people. The disease remains a significant threat to the lives and livelihoods, although the number of confirmed malaria cases in the region decreased from 2.9 million in 2000 to 2 million in 2012.

“Around 1.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria in Southeast Asia. They are often the poorest, inclunding workers in hilly or forested areas, in development projects such as mining, agroforestry, road and dam constructions and in upland subsistence farming in rural areas and urban areas,” said WHO regional director for Southeast Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh, in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

She was speaking at the celebration of 2014 World Malaria Day, which falls on April 25.

“We must continue surveillance on malaria. Funding needs to be increased for diagnostics, drugs, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and research and response on drug and insecticide resistance. We need to empower communities to protect themselves. Eliminating malaria will take better political will,” Singh added.

World efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives. Malaria mortality rates have been reduced by 42 % and the incidence of malaria decreased by 25 % globally during 2000-2012.

Although substantial, the WHO said gains in malaria control could be reversed due to increasing parasite resistance to drugs, mosquito resistance to insecticides and the reintroduction of transmission in places where the disease has been eliminated.

“The emergence of artemisinin resistance in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam threatens world achievements in malaria control and elimination,” it said.

Artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) is the initial line of treatment for the majority lethal type of malaria.

"The resistance to this drug would compromise the lives of hundreds of thousands of people affected by malaria, and there is an urgent need to invest in ways to contain the spread of resistance to these drugs," the WHO added.

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