Malaria resurgence is linked to reduction of malaria-control programs

Since the 1930s, there have been 75 documented episodes of malaria resurgence worldwide, most of which were linked to weakening of malaria control programs, finds a new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Malaria Journal. The study, which is allied to the theme of this year's World Malaria Day (25th April 2012) "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria", found that the most common reason for weakening of malaria control programs was funding disruptions.

There are over 200 million cases of malaria each year with 85% of all cases being children under five years old and, according to the , in 2010 malaria was responsible for 655 000 deaths worldwide, mostly among African children. Deaths which are unnecessary, because malaria is both preventable and curable.

Low cost treatment is available and simple solutions to prevent the diseases, like insecticide treated and during pregnancy, have all been shown to reduce the number of deaths due to malaria. Initiatives like , set up in 1998, aim to reduce due to malaria by two thirds, by 2015, using large scale implementation of these simple solutions.

Researchers from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, and the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify all documented malaria resurgence events where malaria had returned to an area previously under control.

The causes of malaria resurgence were categorized as being due to weakened programs, increased intensity of (such movement of people or mosquitoes, weather, or changes in land use) , or technical obstacles including resistance of the to drugs. 91% of the 75 resurgence events found were blamed at least in part on the weakening of malaria control programs.

Lead author Justin Cohen, PhD, MPH of the Clinton Health Access Initiative explains, "Malaria control programs have been shown to be extremely successful in reducing the number of cases of malaria to very low levels, but history demonstrates that gains can be lost rapidly if financial and political support is not sustained. Finding ways to ensure continued funding for malaria control today will be crucial to building on the gains of the past decade."

Investments in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and yielded remarkable returns in the past years. However, the future of anti-malaria programs is uncertain as current funding is projected to decline over the next few years.

Sir Richard Feachem, KBE, FREng, DSc(Med), PhD, who was the founding Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and current Director of the UCSF , calls on the malaria community and donors to heed these results in order to continue the fight against malaria. "This work demonstrates the historical evidence on what happens when malaria control efforts and funding streams prematurely turn their attention away from malaria. This paradox of success needs greater attention to maximize our investments in malaria control and elimination."

Finding innovative ways to continue investing in successful malaria control and elimination programs is necessary to ensure that the dramatic progress in the fight against malaria is maintained and extended. Maintaining support for these programs will allow them to continue to save thousands of lives year after year.

More information: Malaria resurgence: a systematic review and assessment of its causes, Justin M Cohen, David L Smith, Chris Cotter, Abigail Ward, Gavin Yamey, Oliver J Sabot and Bruno Moonen, Malaria Journal (in press)

Related Stories

Malaria prevention saves children's lives

Mar 28, 2012

Malaria continues to be a major disease worldwide, but while funding projects are working hard to improve malaria prevention it is difficult to measure how effective these interventions are. New research published in BioMed ...

Malaria top killer in Congo

Apr 30, 2008

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say malaria is the primary cause of illness and death, despite prevention efforts.

Gates: $258 million for malaria research

Oct 31, 2005

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $258 million in malaria research grants. The foundation says malaria kills an estimated 2,000 African children each day and takes the lives of more than 1 million people wor ...

Recommended for you

US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

31 minutes ago

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, U.S. public health officials are girding for the next health disaster.

Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?

9 hours ago

The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola—a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light.

New bird flu case in Germany

9 hours ago

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Mali announces new Ebola case

Nov 22, 2014

Mali announced Saturday a new case of Ebola in a man who is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in the capital Bamako.

Plague outbreak kills 40 in Madagascar: WHO

Nov 22, 2014

An outbreak of plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar, the World Health Organization said, warning that the disease could spread rapidly in the country's densely populated capital Antananarivo.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.