There were about 214 million new cases of malaria this year alone and around 438,000 people have died because of it.
“Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of this century”, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said while presenting the report at Britain´s Houses of Parliament.
“It’s a sign that our strategies are on target and that we can beat this ancient killer”, she said in a statement.
The report found an increasing number of countries were on the verge of eliminating the disease. In 2014, 13 countries reported zero cases of the disease and 6 countries reported fewer than 10 cases.
However, despite this enormous success malaria remains to be a threat in some regions.
The studies authors told the BBC that their findings were an “optimistic” message for the fight against malaria as a whole, but said that the rate of improvement was slowing globally, with cases falling by 9 percent a year until 2011, but only dropping 5 percent in the years since. While dams clearly bring many benefits, the health problems associated with soaring malaria rates are significant enough to cancel out some of the progress they bring, said lead author Solomon Kibret, a biologist with the University of New England in Armidale, Australia.
Chan and UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake warned that because of this “uneven” progress, more attention and resources had to be paid to the hardest hit nations.
“We know how to prevent and treat malaria”, UNICEF’s Lake said. “Since we can do it, we must”. Elsewhere, the researchers show that the treatment of clinical malaria with artemisinin-based combination therapy contributed 22 percent and the use of indoor spraying a further 10 percent. However, about 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – were still at risk of malaria, the report said.
An estimated 80 percent of cases of malaria in 2015 came mostly from countries located in sub-Saharan Africa.
“By 2015, an estimated 68 per cent of under-fives in sub-Saharan Africa were sleeping under insecticide-treated nets, compared to less than 2 per cent in 2000”. The WHO-UNICEF report suggests tripling the annual funding for the anti-malaria campaign to reach the goal.
Of the 106 countries and territories with malaria transmission in 2000, 102 are projected to reverse the incidence of malaria by the end of 2015. Hon Justine Greening, the UK Secretary of State for international Development; Dr Richard Kamwi, the former Minister of Health of Namibia and Ambassador of the “Elimination 8” initiative in southern Africa.