According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, there were approximately 241 million malaria cases globally. The African region accounted for 95% of the cases and 96% of the deaths. However, governments and other organizations, and companies have recently pledged to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2030.
Historic Kigali Summit
On June 23, global leaders led by Rwanda President Paul Kagame convened at the Kigali Summit on malaria and neglected tropical diseases. This historic summit was the first to discuss these diseases in Africa. Members of the summit convened to discuss and introduce solutions and strategies to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases by 2030. The summit caused governments, companies, organizations, philanthropists and others in the private sector to commit more than $4 billion. Countries that these diseases affected donated more than $2.2 billion. Supporters similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pfizer pledged a combined donation of more than one billion dollars to the cause. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies donated 18 billion medicine tablets to prevent and treat neglected tropical diseases.
The attendees highlighted specific goals to achieve to follow WHO’s global malaria strategy for 2016 to 2030. Some of the goals to reach completion by 2030 include:
- Decreasing the number of new malaria cases by at least 90%
- Decreasing malaria death rates by at least 90%
- Ensuring at least 35 countries abolish malaria
- Decreasing the number of people needing treatment for neglected tropical diseases by 90%
- Eliminating dracunculiasis and yaws, two neglected tropical diseases.
Past Progress in Ending Malaria and NTDs
In the past, governments and other organizations have been working hard to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases. With the increase in government funding and access to treatment, malaria and neglected tropical diseases cases have decreased.
Here are a few achievements:
- The number of malaria cases and deaths has significantly reduced since 2000. From 2000 to 2020, about 10.6 million malaria deaths and 1.7 billion malaria cases did not occur.
- The WHO director-general labeled nine countries as free from malaria since 2015.
- Forty-six countries have removed one NTD.
- One billion people have received treatment for an NTD between 2015 and 2019.
Impact of Kigali Summit
While malaria and NTD cases have decreased since 2020, there is still a long way to go. The 2022 Global Malaria Action Plan by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, a group of more than 500 organizations dedicated to ending malaria, emphasizes that 3.3 billion people in 109 countries are at risk of malaria. Each year, 185,000 people die because of an NTD. However, the Kigali Summit provides greater opportunities for treatment and preventative measures to fight these two deadly diseases for people worldwide, impacting billions of people.
The summit also demonstrates the cooperation of countries, organizations, and others and their dedication toward one goal. Because of the African leaders’ persistence through the COVID-19 crisis, they were able to secure high-level commitments of billions of dollars. The world is one step closer to the goal to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases by 2030.
Malaria and NTDs have affected billions of people across many countries worldwide. The dedication from governments, organizations and members of the private sector indicates a different future, one free of these deadly diseases. At the Kigali Summit, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that “…we have the tools and the strategy to prevent that – and, with new tools, to start to dream of a malaria-free-world.”
– Janae O’Connell
Photo: Wikipedia Commons