Major push could end malaria deaths by 2015 - WHO

Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:30pm GMT
 

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The world could stop malaria deaths by 2015 if massive investment is made to ramp up control measures, including wider use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Progress has been made over the decade, with deaths estimated to have dropped to 781,000 last year from nearly one million in 2000, the WHO said in its World Malaria Report 2010.

The largest absolute decrease in mortality was recorded in sub-Saharan Africa, which still accounts for nine out of 10 deaths, mainly children under age 5, according to the U.N. agency. More countries are reporting they have halved cases and deaths since 2000, 11 of them in Africa and 32 in other regions.

"By maintaining these essential gains, we can end malaria deaths by 2015," said Ray Chambers, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for malaria. "It is indeed within our reach."

Robert Newman, director of the WHO's global malaria programme, said the target was ambitious. "It is a long way to go, so serious work has to be done. But this disease is entirely preventable and treatable," he told Reuters.

Experts are debating the next steps in the fight against malaria, with a new vaccine on the horizon from GlaxoSmithKline. But the goal of wiping out malaria altogether poses some tough economic questions.

"Hope is probably at an all-time high with regards to a vaccine," Newman told reporters, referring to the GSK vaccine.

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