Malaria will not be eradicated in the foreseeable future, although it is achievable and would save millions of lives, according to World Health Organization (WHO) experts after a three-year review.
The WHO continues to campaign for the disappearance of every single malaria parasite on the planet, "Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of its global malaria program, since the founding of the UN organization in 1
However, the experts warned in their review that there should be no repetition of past disasters. WHO's first global program to eradicate malaria, which lasted from 1955 to 1969, exempted several countries from disease but was not implemented in the most affected sub-Saharan Africa region.
"Lack of eradication has led to defeat, neglecting malaria control efforts, and abandoning research into new tools and approaches," the review said. "Malaria came back with a vengeance. Millions of dead followed. It took decades for the world to be ready to fight malaria. "
In 2007, thanks to the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, millions of insecticide-impregnated bed nets, new medicines and a vaccine were distributed. Alonso said that these tools, while significantly reducing the number of malaria cases and deaths, are inadequate to rid the world of the disease, which could result in small children and pregnant women dying disproportionately. It turns out that there are no biological or environmental barriers to eradication and that global development is likely to reduce malaria in the future.
"Despite our most optimistic scenarios and forecasts, however, we face an unavoidable fact. With current instruments, we will still have 11 million malaria cases in Africa by 2050, "the review said. "In these circumstances, it is impossible either to set a target date for malaria eradication, to formulate a reliable malaria eradication mission plan, or to award a price tag."
The drug resistance of the malaria parasite has made it more difficult, but even without it, the bednets and the new vaccine are only 40% effective, Alonso said. "Smallpox had a very safe, highly effective vaccine," he said. "Polio is close to extinction.
"We will always lag behind the extinction because our tools are imperfect. They have enabled us to make tremendous progress over the past 15 years, but they are anything but a silver bullet in any form.
"Our priority now should be to lay the foundation for successful future extinction while guarding against the risk of failure that would lead to wasting large sums of money, frustrating all stakeholders, national governments and malaria experts alike the lack of confidence in the ability of the global health community to ever rid the world of this disease, "the report said.
No progress has been made in the past two years to achieve the goal of a 90% reduction in cases by 2030. A major investment of $ 34 billion (£ 28 billion) is called for to reinforce current interventions over the next 11 years and strong political leadership to ensure affordable healthcare in affected countries. Better transmission of malaria is also needed and better tools to control mosquitoes and to protect and treat people in malaria areas.