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Malaria Death Rates Plummet To 60 Percent: Drug Resistance Threatens Progress

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) release joint reports showing the decline of malaria death rates by up to 60 percent since 2000. This rate can be translated to about 6.2 million lives saved, most commonly in children.

The report, entitled Achieving the Malaria Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Target, detailed the drop of the malaria cases by approximately 37 percent in 15 years, signifying the MDG target set for 2015 has been achieved assuredly.

"Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years," said Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO. "It's a sign that our strategies are on target, and that we can beat this ancient killer, which still claims hundreds of thousands of lives, mostly children, each year."

The number of nations that are close to completely eradicating malaria is increasing. About six nations in 2014 have reported [pdf] less than 10 cases of malaria and 13 countries have not a reported a single case. Among the global regions that are exhibiting the swiftest decline of malaria cases include Central Asia, Eastern Asia and the Caucasus.

The funding to eradicate malaria skyrocketed tremendous progress as the global bilateral and multilateral funds, rising by 20-fold beginning in 2000. Investments for the disease in stricken nations shoot up every year domestically. Health care interventions, needed to fight malaria, have expanded across the sub-Saharan region of Africa, respectively.

Residents of Africa have received about one billion insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs), which according to a new study by Malaria Atlas Project, is so far the most essential preventive tool for malaria, accounting for about 68 percent of prevented cases since 2000.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) have also shown promise in effectively treating malarial infections caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which is the deadliest strain of malaria in humans. Experts have warned that drug resistance may increase in threat and thus, must be monitored for prevention.

Amid the massive improvement in malaria death cases, the disease continues to be an acute public health concern in many areas. Approximately 214 million new cases were reported and about 438,000 individuals succumbed to death in 2015. In estimation, about 3.2 million individuals are also considered at risk of developing malaria.

The new goal of the United Nations (UN) for malaria control is to decrease the rate of new and mortality cases by up to 90 percent by 2030. As per the report, the objective is attainable if the yearly funding for malaria triples or shoots up from $2.7 billion at present to $8.7 billion in 2030.

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