The world could be free of malaria – one of the oldest and deadliest diseases to affect humanity – within a generation, a major report says. Each year there are still more than 200 million cases of the disease, which mostly kills young children.
The report says eradicating malaria is no longer a distant dream, but wiping out the parasite will probably need an extra $2bn (£1.6bn) of annual funding. Experts say eradication is a “goal of epic proportions”.
Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. These are spread from person to person by the bite of female mosquitoes in search of a blood meal. Once infected, people become very sick with a severe fever and shaking chills. The parasites infect cells in the liver and red blood cells, and other symptoms include anaemia. Eventually, the disease takes a toll on the whole body, including the brain, and can be fatal. Around 435,000 people – mostly children – die from malaria each year.
- the number of countries with malaria has fallen from 106 to 86
- cases have fallen by 36%
- the death rate has fallen by 60%
This is largely down to widespread access to ways of preventing mosquito bites, such as bed nets treated with insecticide, and better drugs for treating people who are infected.