Each year, WHO’s World malaria report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of trends in malaria control and elimination across the globe. It tracks investments in malaria programmes and research as well as progress across all intervention areas: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, elimination and surveillance. The 2021 report is based on information received from malaria-endemic countries in all WHO regions.
The 2021 edition of the report took a closer look at the impact of disruptions to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest data show that the worst-case scenario projected by WHO – a doubling of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa – did not come to pass. However, moderate disruptions to malaria services led to a marked increase in cases and deaths in 2020 over the previous year.
According to WHO’s latest World malaria report, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627 000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69 000 more deaths. Approximately two thirds of these additional deaths (47 000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic.
More malaria cases and deaths in 2020 linked to COVID-19 disruptions
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Where does the world stand in terms of progress towards global malaria targets? Are there any bright spots in this year’s report?
Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, reflects on the latest data and trends in the global response to malaria.
On 7 December, Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the Global Malaria Programme, and Dr Kate O’Brien, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, responded to questions from the general public on the new malaria report and the RTS,S vaccine.