GENEVA, May 22 (Xinhua) -- During the last three to four years, global progress has stalled and the world finds itself truly at a crossroad in the global fight against malaria, a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.
Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of WHO, said here Tuesday at a side-event of the ongoing 71st World Health Assembly,"if we don't turn things around now, we will not be able to achieve the globally agreed goal of elimination in further 10 countries by 2020, and of a 90 percent reduction in malaria deaths by 2050."
"We only have less than half of the needed global funding available, and in some countries we are beginning to see a deterioration of the problem, with rising cases and rising mortality," he said.
Hosted by China, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the Tuesday's side-event was titled "Country-led and country owned efforts on malaria elimination to achieving universal health coverage".
According to Ren, over the last 15 years, most countries around the world made significant progress against malaria, and the world had seen a major decline in the global disease burden.
China, for example, since 2010, the incidence of malaria has been reduced to less than one out of 10,000 in 95 percent of counties, and by 2017, there were no people infected with malaria in China via mosquito bites.
China used to have more than 24 million malaria cases annually in the early 1970s.
According to Ren, the experience of China and a number of other countries had offered hopes to many other countries that malaria elimination is "indeed feasible".
"During the MDG (Millennium Development Goals)era, the coordinated global malaria response turned out to be one of the greatest public health achievements of all time," he said.
He explained that one of the main reasons for this was that there was a clear global consensus around global health priorities and there was ample evidence to show the effectiveness of malaria tools.
"As a result of the global consensus, hundreds of millions of malaria cases were prevented and over 6 million lives saved," he emphasized.
"Now we need to maintain that consensus and keep the momentum," he added.