Many malaria nations on course to end disease: WHO

Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:19am GMT

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Nearly a third of all malaria affected countries are on course to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease over the next 10 years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

In a progress report published by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership at the start of an international Malaria Forum conference in Seattle, the United Nations health body said "remarkable progress" had been made.

Up to a third of the 108 countries and territories across the world where malaria is endemic are moving towards being able to wipe out the disease within their borders, it said.

"Better diagnostic testing and surveillance has provided a clearer picture of where we are on the ground -- and has shown that there are countries eliminating malaria in all endemic regions of the world," Robert Newman, director of the WHO's Global Malaria Programme, told the conference.

He said the WHO continually monitors progress to ensure countries are supported in their efforts to be malaria-free.

Almost half the world's population -- or 3.3 billion people -- are at risk of malaria and the mosquito-borne parasitic disease killed 781,000 people in 2009, latest data show.

Most of its victims are in Africa, where the disease kills a child every 45 seconds.

Malaria elimination -- halting the disease's transmission and reducing infections to zero within a defined area -- was first attempted on a large scale during the Global Malaria Eradication Program from 1955 to 1972.   Continued...

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