Malaria is not entirely defeated. If, in fact, the WHO European region recorded zero cases of malaria in 2015 (rising from almost 91 thousand indigenous cases, that is, not imported from other continents in 1995), acquiring the status of "malaria free", 3,2 billion people in the rest of the world are still at risk of contracting the disease, which kills more than 400 every year.
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Malaria is not entirely defeated. If, in fact, the WHO European region has registered zero cases of malaria in 2015 (passing from almost 91 thousand indigenous cases, that is, not imported from other continents in 1995), acquiring the status of "malaria free”, 3,2 billion people in the rest of the world are still at risk of contracting the disease, which it reaps more than 400 thousand deaths every year.
These are the data that emerge from the WHO report on widespread malaria on the occasion of World Malaria Day, which also adds that outside the European Region, 8 countries have not registered any new cases already in 2014 - Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates -, while another 8 nations have registered less than 100 and another 12 a number varying between 100 and 1.000 .
All results that, explain the WHO, have been obtained through a careful control of imported cases, a reduction in the population of carrier mosquitoes and with communication to people at high risk.
“This is a milestone in the history of European public health - said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director -. It is not only the time to celebrate our success, but also the opportunity to maintain the malaria-free status that we have achieved with so much work. Until the disease is eliminated from the rest of the world, people traveling to affected countries can bring the disease back to Europe, and we must work to prevent it ”.
The goal, therefore, set in 2015 by the World Health Assembly is eliminate the disease from at least 35 countries by 2030. A goal that, according to the report, is achievable, especially considering that 21 countries could already eliminate local transmission of the disease by 2020, including 6 nations in the region that bears most of the burden of malaria, that of Africa.
The WHO study also shows that since 2000 mortality rates from malaria have fallen by 60% worldwide, primarily through the use of disease control tools, such as bed nets treated with insecticides, rapid diagnosis tests and artemisinin-based combination therapies. All tools that, however, must be constantly updated and reworked, given the onset of resistance to insecticides and drugs.
"It is likely that further progress against malaria will require new tools that do not currently exist and the further refinement of new technologies," WHO stresses.
New economic loans, therefore, e new global and local investments. Many of these should go straight intoSub-Saharan Africa, where most malaria still represents today a leading cause of death in children under five: it is estimated, in fact, that it kills a child every two minutes for a total of over 430 thousand people a year. This entails very high costs for a developing country like Africa.
But through robust funding and strong political will, experts say, affected countries can accelerate progress towards malaria eradication and contribute to the broader development agenda. We hope, therefore, that in the near future it is not only Europe that is completely "malaria-free".
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