The United Nations health agency has released a report which reveals that the number of people dying from malaria
globally has fallen dramatically with more and more countries moving towards its elimination.
“We can win the fight against malaria,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), at the launch of the World Malaria Report 2014.
“We have the right tools and our defences are working. But we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable.”
According to the report, analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43 per cent population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.
The report said between 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially.
Access to accurate malaria diagnostic testing and effective treatment of the life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes has also significantly improved worldwide, it said.
But globally, an increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination, the report said.
In 2013, two countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases.
While funding to combat malaria has increased threefold since 2005, it is still only around half of the $5.1 billion that is needed if global targets are to be achieved.
“While staying focused on the work ahead, we should note that the number of children dying from malaria today is markedly less than 8 years ago. The world can expect even greater reductions in malaria cases and mortality by the end of 2015, but any death from malaria remains simply unacceptable,” said Ray Chambers, who has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria since 2007.
Based on an assessment of trends in reported malaria cases, WHO said 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria.
Some 3.2 billion people in 97 countries and territories are at risk of being infected with malaria, according to WHO. Malaria was responsible for an estimated 584,000 deaths worldwide in 2013, killing an estimated 453,000 children under five years of age.
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