The deadliest type of malaria could be wiped out in most parts of the world in 10 to 15 years, scientists are predicting on the basis of data collected on the parasite from around the world.
Malaria affects half the global population and kills an estimated 1.2 million people worldwide every year.
A majority of the deaths are caused by the mosquito-transmitted organism Plasmodium falciparum. The parasite is at its most deadly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90 per cent of malaria fatalities occur.
Now, scientists who spent five years collecting data on P. falciparum from around the world have come up with a forecast for when the strain is likely to be defeated, reports the Daily Mail .
They say if transmission rates can be reduced beyond a threshold of 90 per cent, the organism could be eradicated from most areas where it is still prevalent in 10 to 15 years, according to the medical journal The Lancet .
"In general, elimination from countries in the Americas is most feasible using current tools, and least feasible for most sub-Saharan countries," said Andrew Tatem from the University of Florida in the US and a team of international experts.
Tatem and his counterpart Professor David Smith led the project to map and model the spread of P. falciparum.
"Civil and economic strife is always good for malaria and bad for people," said Smith.
Thirty-two of the 99 countries where malaria was still endemic had started to eliminate the disease from their borders.
A growing problem was the rise of drug-resistant malaria, especially in the region encompassing Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.