Worldwide, new malaria cases have fallen by 18 per cent since 2000.
In Africa, where the burden of malaria is greatest, the mortality rate has fallen by two-thirds.
Between 2000 and 2015, an estimated six million deaths from malaria were averted, thanks in part to efforts linked with the Millennium Development Goals.
The increase in global financing for malaria has yielded impressive results. More than half the people of Africa are now protected by mosquito nets, up from less than 2 per cent in 2000.
The development and distribution of rapid diagnostic tests means cases can be identified and action taken quickly to prevent further spread of the disease.
These advances, combined with the use of indoor spraying and effective drug treatment, have helped avert hundreds of millions of malaria cases.
Investment in malaria prevention and treatment is one of the most cost-effective ways to spend money. The World Health Organization estimates that anti-malarial efforts have saved $900 million in healthcare costs alone since 2001, in addition to the economic contributions of people who would otherwise be sick.
Today, on World Malaria Day, we should celebrate these remarkable achievements in the battle against one of the world’s biggest killers.
But sadly, we are still far from eliminating malaria. Last year, there were 214 million new malaria cases and more than 400 000 deaths. Nearly 9 in 10 cases were in Africa.
Malaria is a formidable opponent, so there is no guarantee that progress will continue. If we lower our guard, experience shows that the disease may come back. Mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides and malaria parasites can become resistant to medicines.
I commend the World Health Assembly for setting ambitious goals for 2030: reducing malaria cases and mortality by at least 90 per cent; and eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries.
Reaching these goals will require significantly greater investment in fighting malaria. But it will take more than money. It will take political will and leadership.
On World Malaria Day, as we celebrate our progress against this ancient killer, I call on everyone involved to redouble our efforts to reach the 2030 malaria goals.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.