World Health Organization (WHO) has released an annual malaria report which includes, for the first time, a dedicated chapter focused on the intersection of the disease with climate change. “We are at the crossroads of opportunities and challenges,” says the report.
As described in the report, climate change is one of many threats to the global response to malaria. Millions of people continue to miss out on the services they need to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. Conflict and humanitarian crises, resource constraints and biological challenges such as drug and insecticide resistance also continue to hamper progress.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted malaria services, leading to a surge in both incidence and mortality rates, exacerbating already stalled progress against the disease. The world is in danger of losing the fight against malaria, as cases of the disease rose by around 5 million year-on-year in 2022, exceeding global targets to contain it, a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
Pandemic-related disruptions and extreme weather events linked to climate change have hindered the fight against malaria in recent years.
Cases surged in areas where weather was most extreme.
Floods in Pakistan last year, for example, led to a five-fold increase in malaria cases in the country, the report showed.
Two new malaria vaccines, both of which are due to be available next year, provide some hope.
But the report also showed a significant funding gap in the response. While $4.1 billion was invested in the global effort to tackle malaria in 2022, roughly $7.8 billion was needed, it said.
Globally there were an additional five million malaria cases in 2022 over the previous year and five countries bore the brunt of these increases. Pakistan saw the largest increase, with about 2.6 million cases in 2022 compared to 500 000 in 2021.