Since the year 2000, the number of global deaths that are the result of malaria have fallen by 25 percent, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
New figures released by the WHO have revealed fatal cases of malaria totalled 665,000 in 2010, a reduction of five percent from 2009’s statistics.
Additionally, malaria deaths in Africa have seen an even bigger decrease since the start of the new millennium, falling by 33 percent.
However, this good news comes as the WHO also voiced concerns that funding for malaria causes and projects has already reached its peak, and could even be in decline.
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Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general, believes $5 billion dollars a year is required for the next three to four years if the United Nation’s (UN) target of a 50 percent reduction in malaria deaths is to be met by 2015.
It is uncertain whether this goal, both of in terms of funding and death rates, will be achievable, especially as funding in 2011 for malaria programmes is thought to have peaked at $1.5 billion.
And even though the reduction of 25 percent in global malaria-related deaths is a result that should be celebrated, this result needs to double if the 2015 goalpost is to be reached.
Despite this, the WHO has described the diminishing death rates as a “major achievement” and Chan acknowledged the commendable progress that has been made.
She said: “We are making significant progress in battling a major public health problem.”
The UN secretary-general's special envoy for malaria, Raymond Chambers, also commented on the progress. He said investing in malaria programmes offers a return “greater than I have ever experienced in the business world.”
It is believed the progress is the result of a number of factors, mainly an increase in the number of bed nets being provided to households in malaria-stricken countries.
According to the World Malaria Report, in 2000 just three percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa alone had insecticide mosquito nets.
Today, that figure stands at 50 percent. Other factors that have contributed to the progress are thought to be increased access to medication and diagnostic tools and equipment.
Although Chan did add: “There are worrisome signs that suggest progress might slow.” She said: “Parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines remains a real and ever-present danger to our continued success.”
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