The United States is the global leader in the fight against malaria. Under the leadership of President George W. Bush, PMI was launched in 2005 as a five-year, $1.265 billion expansion of the U.S. government contribution to malaria control. Due to its marked success, PMI has expanded to include programs in 27 high-burden sub-Saharan African countries and in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia under Presidents Obama and Trump. The United States is also a major contributor to the Global Fund, which has provided more than 795 million insecticide-treated nets and treated more than 668 million cases of malaria to date.
U.S. funding supports the implementation of malaria prevention and treatment activities around the world, as well as the development of malaria vaccines, antimalarial drugs, diagnostics, insecticides, and other malaria-related research. The world now has the opportunity to end malaria once and for all, within a generation. It is imperative that the United States continues to lead and support all countries working to eliminate malaria and the needless death it causes around the world.
The remarkable progress achieved to date in fighting malaria is the result of coordinated action between U.S. government bilateral and multilateral programs, country-coordinating mechanisms, multilateral agencies, and private-sector partners. The accessibility and availability of lifesaving malaria interventions have played a particularly important part in this progress, thanks to increased funding and political support from the United States and other major donors. Investments in R&D have resulted in the drugs, insecticides, and diagnostic tools in use today, which have brought the world closer to the first-ever malaria vaccine. Bilateral and multilateral malaria prevention programs have also been crucial for protecting U.S. military personnel serving in countries where malaria is endemic. Disease intervention efforts have also helped to strengthen health systems in endemic countries.
Globally, the gains made against malaria are fragile; retreating on investment now would not only stall the progress realized to date, but create a pathway for the disease to return. The 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) report on world malaria showed a stagnation of progress in defeating the disease, due to political instability, domestic donor decline, and insecticide and drug resistance, among other issues. Although not new to the malaria fight, drug resistance looms ever larger as a deadly threat today. Artemisinin is considered the gold standard for antimalarial drugs and is currently the basis of first-line treatment around the world. However, the emergence of artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion threatens the sustainability of recent progress, not only in the region but worldwide.
The benefits of ending malaria would be significant: lower health care costs, higher productivity, increased capacity to respond to disease outbreaks, and a blueprint that could be used against other diseases of poverty. Only with sustained support of U.S. government malaria programs, coupled with the use of existing tools and the creation of new ones, will we be able to eradicate malaria altogether.