The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and cases are also steadily declining, according to the World Malaria Report 2014.wpid-malaria-cure1.jpg

The report which was made available to Ghana News Agency on Tuesday by Alison Clements-Hunt of World Health Organisation (WHO), said from 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47 per cent worldwide and by 54 per cent in the WHO African Region, where about 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur.

New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43 per cent population increase, fewer people were infected or carry a symptomatic malaria infections every year the number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.

?We can win the fight against malaria,? says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO. ?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,? she said.

It said from 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially.

In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from three per cent in 2004.

It noted that this trend was set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.

It said access to accurate malaria diagnostic testing and effective treatment had significantly improved worldwide, while in 2013, the number of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) procured globally increased to 319 million, up from 46 million in 2008.

It said meanwhile, in 2013, 392 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), a key intervention to treat malaria, were procured, up from 11 million in 2005.

The report said globally, an increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination, and many regional groups are setting ambitious elimination targets, the most recent being a declaration at the East Asia Summit to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

But significant challenges remain: ?The next few years are going to be critical to show that we can maintain momentum and build on the gains,? noted Dr Pedro L Alonso, Director of WHO?s Global Malaria Programme.

It noted that in 2013, one third of households in areas with malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a single insecticide treated net.

It said indoor residual spraying, another key vector control intervention, had decreased in recent years, and insecticide resistance had been reported in 49 countries around the world.

It said even though diagnostic testing and treatment had been strengthened, millions of people continue to lack access to these interventions.

The report said progress had also been slow in scaling up preventive therapies for pregnant women, and in adopting recommended preventive therapies for children under five years of age and infants.

Dr Alonso believes, however, that with sufficient funding and commitment huge strides forward could still be made.

?There are biological and technical challenges, but we are working with partners to be proactive in developing the right responses to these.

?There is a strong pipeline of innovative new products that will soon transform malaria control and elimination. We can go a lot further,? he said.

It said funding to combat malaria had 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.

?Against a backdrop of continued insufficient funding the fight against malaria needs a renewed focus to ensure maximum value for money,? says Fatoumata Nafo-Traor?, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

?We must work together to strengthen country ownership, empower communities, increase efficiencies, and engage multiple sectors outside health. We need to explore ways to do things better at all levels.?

Ray Chambers, who had served as the UN Secretary-General?s Special Envoy for Malaria since 2007, highlights the remarkable progress made in recent years.

?While staying focused on the work ahead, we should note that the number of children dying from malaria today is markedly less than eight 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,? he said.

It said at particular risk is progress on malaria in countries affected by the Ebola virus, adding that the outbreak in West Africa has had a devastating impact on malaria treatment and the roll-out of malaria interventions.

GNA

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