The United Nations (UN) agencies have disclosed that the rates of death from malaria have reduced by 60 per cent in the past 15 years, indicating that more than six million lives have been saved – the vast majority of them African children.
In a joint World Health Organisation (WHO)-UNICEF report, experts also said that a crucial Millennium Development Goal to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015 has been met “convincingly”, with new cases of the parasitic mosquito-borne disease down by 37 per cent since 2000.
Speaking on the issue in a statement, the WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, described the development as “one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years. It is a sign that our strategies are on target and that we can beat this ancient killer”.
The report also found an increasing number of countries on the verge of eliminating malaria. In 2014, 13 countries reported zero cases and six had fewer than 10 cases.
According to the report, in spite of the enormous progress, malaria remains an acute problem in some regions. This year alone, there have been an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria, with around 438,000 deaths.
“Malaria kills mostly young children, especially those living in the poorest and most remote places. So the best way to celebrate global progress…is to recommit ourselves to reaching and treating them,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.