World Malaria Day 2022

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa, WHO

Message from WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti

World Malaria Day is marked annually on 25 April to focus global attention on  malaria, and its devastating impact on families, communities and societal  development, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

This year’s theme, “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and  save lives”, aligns with my call to urgently scale up innovation and the deployment of  new tools in the fight against malaria, while advocating for equitable access to  malaria prevention and treatment, within the context of building health system  resilience. 

The past year has seen significant breakthroughs in malaria prevention and control,  in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Landmark recommendations on the use of the  first vaccine against malaria – RTS,S – were released by the World Health  Organization late last year. This vaccine will be used to prevent malaria among  children aged six months to five years, who live in moderate- to high-transmission  settings.  

While this is a groundbreaking advance in the development of new tools to fight this  disease, with the potential to save millions of lives, supplies are currently limited. As  such, it is important to ensure that the doses that are available are utilized for  maximum impact, while ensuring continued availability of other preventive measures  to those most at risk. 

Malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge. In the last  year, about 95% of the estimated 228 million cases occurred in the WHO/AFRO  Region1, along with 602 020 reported deaths. Six of our countries2, the worst impacted by malaria in the Region, are reported to have accounted for up to 55% of  cases globally, and for 50% of these deaths. 

Despite some slowing of progress to reduce malaria cases and deaths, and the  disruptions to health services caused by COVID-19, we are still much further ahead  than we were in 2000. We need to reignite that momentum, and build on the recent  advances. 

1 2021 World Malaria Report 

2 Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3.4%)  and Burkina Faso (3.4%)

For example, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) campaigns were  implemented as planned in 2021, ensuring protection for an additional 11.8 million  children. Indoor residual spraying was also carried out, and long-lasting insecticidal  nets distributed, largely as planned.  

Other notable achievements include the scaled implementation of RTS,S vaccine  pilots in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, which reached up to 900 000 children.  

The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people catching and dying from malaria. This requires a focus on research and on leveraging available evidence to  ensure that our targeted interventions are an efficient use of resources, which  produce measurable results.  

We also need to work on drug and insecticide resistance, as well as focus on new  strains of malaria arising in the Region, which are more difficult to detect, and treat. 

Malaria is, however, about much than medical and technological interventions.  Malaria affects households and communities, and these communities need to be  empowered to play an active role in the fight against this disease. As WHO in Africa,  we recognize that a whole-of-society approach requires us to listen to, and learn  from, those who are worst impacted. 

World Malaria Day today is an occasion to renew political commitment and  encourage continued investment in malaria prevention and control. I call on  countries and communities affected by malaria to work closely with development  partners to advance our countries along the road to elimination, while contributing  to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.  

I personally, and the WHO Regional Office in Africa, remain fully committed to the  fight against malaria. I believe we can overcome the challenge if we collaborate  closely with governments, partners and communities.  

Together, we can accelerate our efforts to achieve a malaria-free Africa.

Learn more: 

World Malaria Day 2022 
World Malaria Report 2021 
Malaria Fact Sheet 
WHO recommends groundbreaking malaria vaccine for children at risk
2 Cabo Verde attains zero local malaria transmission, 2021 Getting malaria prevention back on track