Millions of malaria deaths averted but "massive" caseload remains

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Children surrounded by protective malaria net. Photo: WHO/PAHO

Investment in malaria has averted more than six million deaths over the past 15 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Its World Malaria Report 2015 highlights progress achieved under the Millennium Development Goals, but also the "massive unfinished agenda" to reduce incidence by 2030.

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and is preventable and curable.

Most cases are found in sub-Saharan Africa, with young children being particularly vulnerable

Dianne Penn reports.

The report shows that more than half of the 106 countries with malaria in 2000 had reduced new cases by at least 75 per cent by this year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says prevention of new cases has saved sub-Saharan African countries approximately US$900 million in case management costs during this time period.

This was due to using insecticide-treated mosquito nets as well as other factors, such as indoor spraying and antimalarial treatments.

But the agency says there is no time to bask in this success.

Dr Pedro L. Alonso is Director of WHO's Global Malaria Programme.

"A very positive note on the progress over the last 15 years both in terms of cases averted, lives saved, nearly six million lives saved, and the economic benefits of this. But always we recognize the massive unfinished agenda that rests with us, and the 214 million new cases that have taken place this year; the 438,000 deaths that have taken place this year among the 3.2 billion people that remain at risk of malaria or that live in malaria-endemic areas."

WHO this year released a strategy to reduce global malaria incidence and mortality by at least 90 per cent over the next 15 years.

It also calls for the disease's elimination in at least 35 countries, and prevention of resurgence in all countries that are malaria-free.

To achieve this, the UN health agency is calling for global malaria investment to rise from nearly US$3 billion annually today to nearly US$9 billion each year by 2030.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'01"

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