There were 5 million more cases of malaria in 2016 than 2015, despite years of funding and a misguided presumption that it is under control. (WHO; 2017 World Malaria Report).
In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria with no significant change in the death rate compared to the prior year. 90% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide occur in the African Region. Fifteen countries carry 80% of the global malaria burden, and all but one are in sub-Saharan Africa.
This situation is at a critical juncture, and it will require international cooperation and funding to meet the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2020 goal of reducing the incidence and mortality rates by at least 40%. Unfortunately, this will be particularly problematic for sub-Saharan Africa due to the complex challenges including a paucity of healthcare workers, extremely limited resources, severe infrastructural challenges, adherence to traditional beliefs, and high levels of poverty with all of its associated impact on healthcare.
There are limited effective options available in this region. Sleeping under an insecticide treated bednet and spraying the inside of homes with insecticide are viable options that have proven efficacious. The majority of patients seeking treatment receive artemisinin based therapies; but in rural Africa only a small portion of the population has access to healthcare. Clearly improving access is crucial to managing malaria and a number of other diseases.
Global NeuroCare is a non-profit organization in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC, and actively supports training more neurologists as a means of improving access and advancing healthcare. This approach has been particularly successful in Ethiopia, where the Addis Ababa University Department of Neurology has graduated 30 neurologists over the last decade, with over 20 more in the 3 year training program. These neurologists are teaching the medical students, residents and general physicians as well as physicians from other African nations how to manage common neurological conditions including malaria, ensuring that more effective care is available for many thousands of patients.
This type of support requires funding to increase training, improve access and provide medical research to advance the diagnosis and treatment of malaria. For more information please visit GlobalNeuroCare.org.
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