World Malaria Day 2023 is being marked under the theme “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”. Within this theme, WHO will focus on the third “i” – implement – and notably the critical importance of reaching marginalized populations with the tools and strategies that are available today.
Despite a remarkable effort to scale up malaria control over the last 2 decades, too many people are missing out on the interventions they need to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. Overall, 30% of the global population cannot access essential health services, and between 1.4–1.9 billion people face catastrophic or impoverishing health spending, with significant inequities affecting the most vulnerable.
In low-income countries, poor quality health care is responsible for a greater number of deaths than lack of access to care. Although the number of children receiving diagnosis and treatment in the public sector has slightly increased, more is needed to ensure quality of care, which includes a reliable supply of life-saving medicines and diagnostics as well as addressing critical shortages of health workers.
Strong health systems are the backbone of successful responses to malaria. Health systems need to be radically reorientated towards primary health care (PHC). About 90% of essential health services can be delivered through PHC, including many services to promote health, prevent disease, and avoid the need for more costly secondary and tertiary care. Taking full advantage of a PHC approach will enable health interventions at the community level and extend the reach of health services.