Research against malaria stalls due to lack of funds


Fight against malaria stagnates due to lack of money: Hundreds of thousands of malaria victims continue

There is still no victory in sight in the fight against the tropical disease malaria - this is the sad result of the recently published World Malaria Report 2012 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and illustrates this with frightening numbers: Every year, more than 600,000 people worldwide die from it insidious illness, mostly girls and boys under the age of five, a child falls victim to malaria every minute in Africa.

A study by US scientists who published their own data on malaria victims in 2010 at the beginning of the year and which significantly exceeded the WHO figures also showed that the numbers are immense. The WHO had counted 655,000 deaths, according to researchers led by Christopher Murray from the University of Washington at Seattle, but the number of fatalities in 2010 was 1.2 million (twice as many malaria deaths).

Risk of increasing drug resistance
According to WHO director Margaret Chan, a particularly big problem in dealing with the disease is "increasing resistance of the pathogens to malaria drugs and the Anopheles mosquitoes to insecticides". Experts would even fear that "resistance in Cambodia and Thailand to one of the most important active substances against malaria could develop". This is called "Artemisinin", a secondary plant substance that is used worldwide to treat malaria. Greater efforts would be needed here, according to Chan, "to avoid a medical disaster in the future".

Sickness could be controlled more by increasing financial resources
From the perspective of the WHO, however, this is not an unchangeable condition - the disease, which is primarily transmitted in tropical climates by the so-called malaria mosquitoes, is a "tragedy", but according to Margaret Chan, this can be overcome with sufficient financial means. But precisely these financial resources are currently lacking.

Everything looked so promising: In 2001, a working group with representatives of the UN and the World Bank, among others, formulated the so-called "Millennium Development Goals", with the intention, among other things, that the spread of malaria and other serious diseases by 2015 Diseases would be brought to a standstill and a trend reversal would be brought about. But according to the WHO, mankind is still miles away from this goal - instead, the fight against the infectious disease malaria has stalled, and by 2015 this goal can no longer be achieved.

14 countries need particularly strong support
According to the WHO report, the situation is particularly bad in the African countries of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Asia in India - however, according to the report, there are a total of 14 countries in which malaria is rampant and in which around 80% of all combined Malaria infections occur. And precisely in these countries, according to the WHO, the fight against the disease must be intensified. Because even though on the other hand the number of new infections could be reduced by 75 percent in about 50 nations, this success offers only limited reason for joy - but this concerns countries in which just 3% of all malaria cases worldwide occur.

But to be able to operate successfully in the group of 14 countries, money is required. According to the WHO report, less than $ 100 million would have been available worldwide in 2000. In the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase, which, according to the WHO, has resulted in the fact that 1.1 million people worldwide have been saved from malaria death.

Funding essential according to WHO
That sounds good and the right way, but this development seems to be stagnating. From an expert's point of view at a high level - but at a level far from sufficient to fundamentally change the situation. From the perspective of the WHO, it was necessary to continue the upswing of the years after the turn of the millennium. Because "many countries would have increased the financing of malaria control from their own resources, the total available funds stagnated at $ 2.3 billion in 2011 - less than half of what is needed," the WHO said, because According to the WHO experts, by 2020 it would be necessary to have $ 5.1 billion a year.

In order to close the gap and subsequently act more actively against malaria and to be able to help affected people, according to the WHO director Margaret Chan "there is an urgent need to identify new sources of funding in order to be able to increase the aid, the efforts to malaria to control, maintain and protect investments over the past decade. "" New ways would have to be explored to further expand existing funds, "said the director in the preface to the World Malaria Report.

Money that is urgently needed - among other things for mosquito nets, which are indispensable for protection against malaria mosquitoes, but for which, according to the WHO, there would be insufficient funds. The number of networks has dropped from 145 million in 2010 to 66 million in the current year, especially in the African countries in which the infectious disease is raging most severely - this insufficient supply would put many families at greater risk, so that "more people are exposed to the potentially fatal disease".

Germany's role as a donor
Germany's part in the fight against the disease mainly consists of financing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). This global fund is a financial instrument that operates in 140 countries worldwide and is one of the most important tools for combating these diseases. The FRG had previously invested EUR 200 million here annually, but payments had been temporarily stopped after corruption cases became known.

However, this should change again: Dirk Niebel (FDP), Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, announced in November this year that Germany would again contribute a total of one billion euros between 2012 and 2016. (sb)

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Image: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

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Video: Global Progress Against Malaria at Risk as Funding Stalls


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