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Ahead Of World Malaria Day, WHO Heralds Gains Against Disease, Calls For Greater Treatment Coverage

“The World Health Organization heralded major gains Tuesday in the fight against malaria, one of the developing world’s biggest killers, but warned universal access to treatment remains elusive,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting, “The assessment came on the eve of World Malaria Day,” observed Wednesday and “designed to shine the light on the mosquito-borne parasite that killed 655,000 people in 2010, including 560,000 children under five” (4/24). “A massive acceleration in the global distribution of mosquito nets, the expansion of programs to spray the insides of buildings with insecticides, and an increase in access to prompt antimalarial treatment has brought down malaria mortality rates by more than a quarter worldwide, and by one-third in Africa since 2000,” but “simply maintaining current rates of progress will not be enough to meet global targets for malaria control,” the agency writes in a news release (4/24).

The release details “WHO’s new initiative, T3: Test. Treat. Track.,” launched Tuesday, which “urges malaria-endemic countries and donors to move towards universal access to diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, and to build robust malaria surveillance systems,” PANA/Afrique en ligne notes (4/24). The agency also “said Tuesday it was optimistic drug-resistant malaria that has emerged along Thailand’s borders with Cambodia and Myanmar could be contained within the region,” AFP writes in a separate article (4/24). USAID on Wednesday released the sixth annual report (.pdf) from the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which notes that “11 of the countries where PMI has been working have reported significant reductions in deaths among children under the age of five — ranging from 16 to 50 percent. There is strong and growing evidence that malaria prevention and control is a major factor in these reductions,” according to the PMI website (4/25). Also on Wednesday, the Financial Times published a special report, titled “Combatting Malaria,” which includes several articles examining the fight against the disease, including articles on malaria financingbednet sales and a new malaria strain emerging in South-East Asia (4/24).