The international health community celebrated the New Year with what may yet prove to be a turning point in the global fight against malaria. Global deaths from the mosquito-borne disease have almost halved since the turn of the millennium, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Malaria mortality rates decreased by 47% between 2000 and 2013, says the WHO in its World Malaria Report 2014.
Deaths were also reduced by 54% in Africa, where 90 per cent of all malaria deaths occur. The number of those infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013, says the report. This has been achieved despite a 43 per cent increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas. Global prevention and control efforts contributed significantly to reduce the mortality rate.
In addition, the WHO says two countries – Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka – reported zero indigenous cases for the first time in 2013, while eleven others (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) succeeded in maintaining zero cases. Such progress has been maintained with more people receiving life-saving malaria interventions each day.‘
These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, a burgeoning in regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing,’ said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General.