Global anti-malaria fight still fragile: Report

The global fight against malaria is saving more and more lives, especially among children in Africa, but progress remains fragile and more money is needed.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2010, 00:07 AM IST

Washington: The global fight against
malaria is saving more and more lives, especially among
children in Africa, but progress remains fragile and more
money is needed, a report said on Tuesday.

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual
spraying and preventive malaria treatment during pregnancy
have saved the lives of nearly three quarters of a million
children in 34 African countries over the past 10 years,
according to the study published by the Roll Back Malaria
Partnership (RBM).

Most of those lives have been saved since 2006, when
the malaria fight got a big injection of cash.

Another three million lives could be saved by 2015 if
there is a continuing effort to increase investment to tackle
the disease worldwide, said researchers from Tulane
University, Johns Hopkins University, the World Health
Organisation (WHO) and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Malaria kills more than 850,000 people each year
worldwide, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is
responsible for nearly 20 per cent of infant deaths.

The disease is contracted when people are bitten by
mosquitoes infected with a parasite called Plasmodium.

It causes fever and vomiting and can quickly become
life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital
organs.

The parasites have developed resistance to a number of
malaria medications in many parts of the world and it has been
more than a decade since a new class of malaria drugs began to
be widely used.

Malaria is particularly lethal to pregnant women in
sub-Saharan Africa, where 10,000 of them die each day due to
related complications, such as anemia.

"This report demonstrates the critical importance of
malaria control efforts to reaching the health-related (United
Nations) Millennium Development Goals by 2015," WHO Global
Malaria Programme director Robert Newman said in a statement.

"Without continued investment in malaria, reaching the
MDG for child survival is unlikely to be reached in Africa."
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched
with much fanfare by UN member states in 2000 with the aim of
halving poverty in the world from 1990 levels by 2015.

Although development aid increased at first, it has
since fallen and none of the goals, which include cutting
child mortality rates by two-thirds, halving the number of
people in absolute poverty and reducing HIV/AIDS, are on
target to be reached.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon estimated yesterday
that more than USD 100 billion was needed over the next five
years to reach the MDGs.

PTI