WHO Reports Improvements In Malaria Control Efforts, Warns Progress Fragile Without Sustained Funding

“The number of people killed by malaria has been cut by nearly half in Africa and a slightly lower rate globally, but sustained funding is needed to lower the numbers even more, according to the United Nations health agency, which [on Wednesday] released its annual assessment report on the disease,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/11). “WHO said in its World Malaria Report 2013 that expanded prevention and control measures helped produce declines in malaria deaths and illness,” Reuters writes, noting, “Of the 3.3 million lives saved, most were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden and among children under age five, the group most afflicted by the disease” (Steenhuysen, 12/11). According to the report, “increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce incidence of malaria by 29 percent globally, and by 31 percent in Africa between 2000 and 2012,” and “mortality rates have been reduced by 45 percent globally and by 49 percent in Africa over the same period,” Xinhua adds (12/11). “But much more needs to be done to eliminate the disease, which last year killed an estimated 627,000 people worldwide, about 483,000 of whom were children under the age of five,” Inter Press Service states (Lobe, 12/11).

“Despite such strides, health officials remain concerned that without increased action, these numbers could begin to slip,” Nature World News writes (Kemsley, 12/11). “Part of what is driving incidence and deaths rates down is additional funding targeted toward increasing access to testing for the parasite responsible for the disease,” according to TIME (Rhodan, 12/11). However, “millions of people continue to lack access to diagnosis and quality-assured treatment, particularly in countries with weak health systems,” the WHO states in a press release (12/11). In addition, “[f]or the second year in a row, WHO noted a dramatic decline in the number of bed nets given out to protect people from the mosquitoes that spread malaria,” according to the Associated Press (Cheng, 12/11). “[T]he WHO said that the progress in preventing malaria deaths has slowed down in the last few years, due to [overall] decreased funding. And funding is expected to be below par for the next two years,” United Press International notes (Baliga, 12/11). “Although malaria deaths have fallen worldwide over the last decade, health leaders warned Wednesday of a small but rising threat in parts of Southeast Asia, where anti-malaria drug resistance is confounding experts,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog writes (Clemons, 12/11).

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