Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some good news in the World Malaria Report 2009

Some good news today comes from the World Health Organization's "World Malaria Report 2009." The WHO says that good progress has been made in making mosquito nets available to the world's poor. So much so, that the numbers of people getting sick and dying from the disease is decreasing.

The WHO says that the increases in funding are helping to buy more mosquito nets and drugs. The report calls for funding to increase to 5 billion dollars a year to eliminate deaths from malaria. Funding increased from $0.3 billion in 2003 to 1.7 billion in 2009.

From Reuters Africa, writer Kate Kelland focuses on the availability of malaria drugs cited in the report.

Around 40 percent of the world's population is at risk of malaria, a potentially deadly disease transmitted via mosquito bites. It kills more than a million people worldwide each year and children account for about 90 percent of the deaths in the worst affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.

The fight against malaria has been slowed by resistance to chloroquine, the cheapest and most widely used malaria drug, which is now common throughout Africa.

Resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, often seen as the first and least expensive alternative, is also increasing.

As a result, artemisinin combination therapy drugs, or ACTs -- made by firms such as Novartis and Sanofi -Aventis -- are now regarded as the best medicines against malaria, but access to them is limited because they are expensive.

The WHO report found a marked increase in ownership of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) in 2008 from previous years -- more than half of homes in 13 of the 35 African countries worst affected by malaria have at least one net.

Use of artemisinin-based combination therapies is growing but remains low in most African countries, it said, with fewer than 15 percent of children with fever getting the drugs.

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