September 19, 2008

Global Burden of Malaria Control Remains Enormous, Says WHO

Global burden of malaria control remains enormous, says WHO

GENEVA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The global burden of malaria control remains enormous as many countries still lack sufficient resources to tackle the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

Worldwide 247 million people were infected with malaria in 2006, and 881,000 died of the disease in the same year, the UN agency said in its World Malaria Report 2008.

In Africa only 125 million people were protected by mosquito nets in 2007, while 650 million are still at risk.

A lot of surveyed countries still lack sufficient resources to tackle the disease and access to treatment is still inadequate, said the report.

Most African countries are way off meeting the 80 percent coverage target for the four main treatments -- mosquito nets, drugs, indoor insecticide spray and treatment during pregnancy -- set by the WHO in 2005.

"We know that malaria control interventions work and that we can make rapid progress toward ending malaria deaths," said Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy for malaria.

"Now is the time to expand these results to all of Africa and the rest of the world," Chambers said in a statement.

Yet, the report noted some progress in malaria control, particularly in African countries.

Recent increases in malaria funding were beginning to translate to coverage of key malaria interventions, especially mosquito nets, by 2006, the report said.

The percentage of children protected by insecticide-treated nets increased almost eightfold, from 3 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 18 African countries in 2006, it said.

Procurement of anti-malarial medicines also increased sharply between 2001 and 2006. Approximately 100 million people were protected worldwide by indoor spraying of insecticide, including 22 million in Africa.

Meanwhile, malaria deaths have declined in several countries, and a few nations in Africa have managed to cut malaria deaths in half by following recommended measures, said the report.

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