Malaria Deaths Dropped Below Half A Million In Past Year: WHO

“A rapid expansion in diagnostic testing, and in the availability of antimalarial medicines, has allowed many more people to access timely and appropriate treatment.”

Two countries, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo, accounted for more than 35 percent of global malaria deaths in 2015.

Yet, the WHO said, an estimated 663 million cases of malaria have been averted in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001 as a direct result of the scale-up of three key malaria control interventions: bednets, indoor spraying and the use of malaria drugs known as artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACTs.

Mosquito nets have had the greatest impact, it said.

Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria programme, cautioned, however, that as the global burden of malaria declining, new challenges are emerging.

“In many countries, progress is threatened by the rapid development and spread of mosquito resistance to insecticides. Drug resistance could also jeopardize recent gains in malaria control,” he said.

In the past five years, 60 of the 78 countries that monitor insecticide resistance have reported mosquito resistance to at least one insecticide used in nets and indoor spraying, the report found. And of these, 49 reported resistance to two or more classes of insecticide.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Mark Heinrich)