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A worker fumigates buildings to control malaria in Sri Lanka in 2011. Photo: Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo

There were 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the World Health Organization. This is an abrupt change: the number of cases dropped over 60% from 2000-2015. "For the first time, we can confidently say that we have stopped making progress," Pedro Alonso, the director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organization tells Amy Maxmen at Nature.

Why it matters: According to the WHO, more than half the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria. In 2015, over 200 million people were infected with malaria and nearly half a million died, mostly children under the age of 5.

Why it's happening:

  • Funding shortages. In 2016, the amount of money spent combatting malaria decreased. Reports Maxmen, "A review of 75 malaria resurgences between 1930 and 2011 found that most upticks in the disease followed funding disruptions."
  • Indoor residual spraying. The Economist reports some are blaming a decline in indoor residual spraying, which treats walls of houses with insecticide, for the increase. But evidence on the efficacy of indoor residual spraying is mixed.
  • Ongoing humanitarian crises in countries like Sudan and Yemen make targeting malaria in those places more difficult, though the WHO reports apparent reductions in cases in some of those countries.
  • Access to treatment is still less than it should be in many countries, reports the WHO.

Drug resistance: It's concerning that we're seeing more malaria cases, in part because resistance to some drugs is rapidly spreading in malaria in Southeast Asia. The region only accounts for 3% of malaria cases, reports Maxmen, but if the resistant disease makes it to Africa deaths could dramatically increase.

The bottom line: "If you ask me, the number-one priority must be to ensure that people stop dying of a disease that is entirely curable," Alonso told Maxmen.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.

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