TEST. TREAT. TRACK. - scaling up the fight against malaria
24 April 2012 | Geneva - On the eve of World Malaria Day 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) hails global progress in combating malaria but highlights the need to further reinforce the fight. WHO's
new initiative, T3: Test. Treat. Track, urges malaria-endemic countries and donors to move towards universal access to diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, and to build robust malaria surveillance systems.
"In the past ten years, increased investment in malaria prevention and control has saved more than a million lives," says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "This is a tremendous achievement. But we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions."
A massive acceleration in the global distribution of mosquito nets, the expansion of programmes to spray the insides of buildings with insecticides, and an increase in access to prompt antimalarial treatment has brought down malaria mortality rates by more than a quarter worldwide, and by one third in Africa since 2000. But simply maintaining current rates of progress will not be enough to meet global targets for malaria control.
T3: Test. Treat. Track.
WHO therefore urges the global health community to further scale up
investments in diagnostic testing, treatment, and surveillance for
malaria in order to save more lives and to make a major push towards
achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
Endemic countries should be able to ensure that every suspected
malaria case is tested, that every confirmed case is treated with a
quality-assured antimalarial medicine, and that the disease is tracked
through timely and accurate surveillance systems.
WHO has published technical guidance for all three pillars of T3:
Test. Treat. Track. - releasing the final two documents of the
package, Disease Surveillance for Malaria Control, and Disease
Surveillance for Malaria Elimination, today.
"Until countries are able to test, treat, and report every malaria
case, we will never defeat this disease," says Dr Margaret Chan, who
is in Namibia for World Malaria Day this year. "We need strong and
sustained political commitment from all countries where malaria is
endemic, and from the global health community, to see this fight
In half of all malaria-endemic countries in Africa, over 80% of
cases are still being treated without diagnostic testing. Universal
diagnostic testing will ensure that patients with fever receive the
most appropriate treatment, and that antimalarial medicines are used
rationally and correctly. Countries that have already scaled up
diagnostic testing (such as Senegal) are saving hundreds of thousands
of treatment courses every year.
Many countries have made significant progress in improving access
to antimalarials. In 2010, 60 governments were providing
artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) free of charge to all
age groups. But millions of people still lack ready access to
appropriate treatment. The effort must be scaled up to ensure that
every confirmed malaria case gets treated.
Improved surveillance for malaria cases and deaths will help
countries determine which areas or population groups are most
affected. It will also help ministries of health to identify
resurgences and map new trends - thus maximizing the efficiency of
prevention and control programmes. Better surveillance will also allow
for a more effective delivery of international aid programmes.
"T3. Test. Treat. Track aims to galvanize endemic countries and their
partners to build on the success of malaria prevention efforts over
the past decade," says Dr Robert Newman, Director of WHO's Global
Malaria Programme. "In recent years, there has been major progress in
the development of new diagnostic tools and highly effective
antimalarial medicines. The challenge now is to ensure these tools get
used, and that countries accurately measure their public health
Malaria progress, 2000-2010
During the past decade, global malaria prevention and control efforts
have been scaled up, with notable progress in sub-Saharan Africa,
where the vast majority of malaria cases occur. The number of
long-lasting insecticidal nets delivered to malaria-endemic countries
in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 5.6 million in 2004 to 145
million in 2010. Programmes to spray the interiors of buildings with
insecticides were also expanded, with the number of people protected
in sub-Saharan Africa rising from 10 million in 2005 to 81 million in
The availability of rapid diagnostic tests has made it possible to
improve and expand diagnostic testing for malaria. The rate of testing
- in the public sector in Africa - rose from less than 5% in 2000 to
45% in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of ACTs procured worldwide by
government health departments also increased exponentially: from 11
million in 2005 to 181 million in 2010.
However, malaria transmission still occurs in 99 countries around the
world, and the malaria burden continues to cripple health systems in
many African countries. In 2010, this entirely preventable and
treatable disease caused an estimated 655,000 deaths worldwide. About
560,000 of the victims were children under five years of age, which
means malaria killed one child every minute.
"Sustaining recent gains in Africa will require continued political
commitment and funding," said Dr Thomas Teuscher, Executive Director
a.i., Roll Back Malaria Partnership. "An estimated 3 million lives
can be saved between now and 2015, if we continue to work in
partnership and if governments in endemic countries redouble their
efforts to provide people with essential health services."
World Malaria Day was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its
60th session in May 2007 to recognize the global effort to provide
effective control of malaria. It is celebrated on 25 April ever year.
Note to Editors:
WHO's statistical uncertainty range for global malaria mortality is
537,000-907,000 - an indication of the urgent need for better
surveillance and improved reporting.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Tarik Jasarevic, Tel: +41 22 791 5099, Mob: +41 793 676 214,
For more information on World Malaria Day and T3. Test. Treat. Track.
go to the WHO website at:
All WHO information can be found at: www.who.int.
-- Newly released surveillance manuals -
-- T3: Test. Treat. Track brochure -
-- T3: Test. Treat. Track infographic -
-- Updated malaria factsheet -