Malaria Death Rates Fall Sharply: WHO

According to WHO, an increasing number of countries are on the verge of eliminating malaria: 13 countries reported zero cases of the disease and six others reported fewer than 10 cases in 2014.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF released a report last week showing that malaria death rates have plunged by 60 percent since 2000, which translates into 6.2 million lives saved--most of them children. The "Achieving the malaria MDG target" report indicates prolonged efforts have begun to reverse the incidence of malaria this year, and the target has been met "convincingly," with new malaria cases dropping by 37 percent in 15 years.

"Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. "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."

According to WHO, an increasing number of countries are on the verge of eliminating malaria: 13 countries reported zero cases of the disease and six others reported fewer than 10 cases in 2014.

But the disease remains an acute public health problem in many regions. Fifteen countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for 80 percent of malaria cases and 78 percent of deaths globally in 2015. "Malaria kills mostly young children, especially those living in the poorest and most remote places. So the best way to celebrate global progress in the fight against it is to recommit ourselves to reaching and treating them," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "We know how to prevent and treat malaria. Since we can do it, we must."

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