The United Nations (UN) has revealed that more than ever before, it is fighting the war against malaria on a slippery terrain. In its World Health Organisation (WHO) annual assessment report released December 2012, the global body said an estimated $5.1 billion was needed annually between 2011 and 2020 to achieve universal access to malaria interventions in the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission.
The report further said Nigeria alone would need $1 billion of the $2.4 billion now urgently required in order to stave off backsliding and resurgences of malaria resistance as early as 2013 and 2014.
Some 80 percent of malaria deaths occur in 14 endemic countries, with Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and India among the worst affected, the report said.
The report revealed that over 90 percent of the world’s malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that approximately $3.6 billion in additional funding was required for anti-malaria programmes in the region between now and 2015.
In a bid to arrest the slide and ensure that the global fight against three of the world’s most devastating diseases remains efficient, the Board of the UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria voted recently to begin an immediate transition to a new investing formula.
The UN has admitted that a significant slowdown in global funding of anti-malaria campaigns is threatening to roll back impressive gains made against the preventable mosquito-borne disease over the last decade.
While many countries have increased domestic financing for malaria control, the total available global funding remained at $2.3 billion in 2011 – less than half of what was needed. Malaria struck an estimated 219 million people globally in 2010, killing about 660,000, mostly children under age five.
“If we fail to come together and urgently resolve the shortfall, there will be no averting a humanitarian crisis. Millions of children can be saved in the coming years with methods that have already proven their success, yet we will lose this chance if funds are not mobilised immediately,” Ray Chambers, UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for malaria, said.
While concern over the ineffectiveness in the use of mosquito treated net to eradicate malaria in the country, indoor residual spraying is considered an expensive method to embark on, thereby ensuring many Nigerians preferring to stay outside to receive fresh air.
Health experts believe that despite the current economic climate, development aid needs to continue flowing to national malaria control programs to ensure widespread population access to life-saving and cost-effective interventions.
They believe that long-term success will also depend on investments in on-going research and development to combat emerging threats such as parasite resistance. Sustaining malaria control efforts is an investment in development.
Continued investment in malaria control now will propel malaria-endemic countries like Nigeria toward near-zero deaths by 2015 and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education.
For Anyanwu Clare, a physician, “it is time for the government through National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to put teeth to action in fighting malaria to a standstill. Though, the government through NMCP has made tremendous efforts in prevention of the disease, the desired results is still far off from stemming the tide of malaria among Nigerians.