Gains against malaria at risk from US cuts and donor complacency

Zambia’s multipronged effort against malaria is making headway, at least in some parts of the country. In Eastern Province,  parasite prevalence among small children is down almost by half, to 12 percent. Efforts in Southern Province have been even more successful –prevalence is now below one percent. The national death rate declined by around 80 percent from 2010 to 2017. However, the results have been uneven. Many parts of the country have seen increases in prevalence, with some areas as high as 32 percent.

A big chunk of the funding for Zambia’s anti-malaria programming comes from the United States. Begun under former president George W. Bush, the fight against malaria is often cited as one of the US government’s most successful global health campaigns. But that could all change with President Donald Trump’s threat to cut foreign assistance around the globe.

The United States is such a massive player in global health, accounting for more than one third of total anti-malaria funding expenditures worldwide, that even relatively minor cuts would have a significant impact. The current global budget for malaria is less than half of what is needed to meet global malaria targets of reducing malaria by 40 percent by 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

Malaria experts warn that a reduction in that effort would be more than a minor setback: if malaria has been suppressed in a region and then resurges, the results can be devastating since natural immunities will be lowered and death and disability can rise sharply.

Globally, the trend is worrying. A recent WHO assessment found that progress around the world had stalled for the first time in a decade.

[IRIN]

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