A new World Health Organization (WHO) report published Monday to mark this year’s World Malaria Day says six African countries could be free of malaria by the year 2020.
Nigeria is one of the African countries currently battling the disease but WHO did not list the country as one of those with prospects to eradicate the disease in the next four years.
The countries listed are Algeria, Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, South Africa and Swaziland. These countries are among the 21 countries the WHO hopes could end local transmission of malaria by 2020, in line with the “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the organisation last year.
A statement in the report reads:
“Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under 5 years”
According to the WHO, malaria infection rates are falling thanks to the use of insecticide-treated bed-nets, regular bug spraying inside dwellings and rapid diagnostic testing, though these techniques are becoming less effective as time goes on.
The report adds:
“The efficacy of the tools that secured the gains against malaria in the early years of this century is now threatened. Mosquito resistance to insecticides used in nets and indoor residual spraying is growing. So too is parasite resistance to a component of one of the most powerful anti-malarial medicines.”
While the outlook is promising, the group cautioned that nearly half of the world’s population – around 3.2 billion people – is still at risk of contracting malaria. Just last year, 214 million new cases of malaria were reported in 95 countries. More than 400,000 people died from the disease. The report also says that 9 out of ten deaths from malaria in 2015 came from sub-Saharan Africa.