2014-12-09 16:11:00

Dramatic fall in malaria deaths worldwide since 2000

(Vatican Radio)  The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of people dying from malaria has halved since 2001 thanks to better diagnosis and treatment and more mosquito nets. Malaria killed some 584,000 people across the world in 2013, most of them children under the age of five.  Despite the overall improvement, the WHO warns that the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has had a devastating impact there on malaria treatment and the roll-out of malaria control programmes.  Pedro Alonso is director of the WHO’s global malaria programme and he spoke to Susy Hodges about the findings of the WHO’s latest report on the mosquito-borne disease.

Listen to the full interview with Pedro Alonso of the WHO: 

Alonso hailed the “unprecedented result” in halving the number of malaria deaths since the beginning of the century but pointed out that although they have won “a lot of battles” there is no room for complacency as the overall war is not yet won.  He said progress against the disease remains “fragile” and with nearly 600,000 people still dying each year from malaria this is “a stark reminder that the challenges ahead remain massive.”

Asked about the impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on the malaria treatment and control programmes, Alonso concedes that he is very “worried” about this, especially because malaria had always been a “massive” problem in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, even before the current Ebola outbreak, with around 20,000 deaths from malaria last year alone in the three countries. In his view, the current Ebola epidemic is bound to “worsen the malaria situation” in these countries because of the severe impact the epidemic is having on their nations’ health services.   

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