• Switzerland's news in English

Ebola worries offset malaria gains: WHO

AFP · 9 Dec 2014, 12:43

Published: 09 Dec 2014 12:43 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The UN agency also warned of continuing gaps in access to mosquito nets and anti-malaria treatments, as well as worrying signs of resistance to insecticides and drugs.
Global mortality rates fell by 47 percent between 2000 and 2013 and by 53 percent in children under the age of five, the WHO said in its annual report on the disease.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur, the mortality rate was down 54 percent —  58 percent in under fives, the equivalent of about 3.9 million children's deaths averted.
"These are truly unprecedented results and phenomenal news in terms of global health," said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria programme.
Despite a 43-percent increase in the population in the region, the number of infections at any one time fell 26 percent between 2000 and 2013.
Meanwhile 13 of the 97 malarial countries reported no cases of the disease last year, including Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka, which recorded their first ever zero result.
Alonso attributed the progress in large part to increasing financial and political commitment, as well as improvements in diagnosing and therefore treating cases.

However, despite a threefold increase in investment since 2005, malaria programmes are still underfunded -- $2.7 billion in 2013 against a $5.1 billion international target.

And as a result, major gaps remain.

Access to insecticide-treated bed nets has improved significantly, but 278 million people at risk in sub-Saharan Africa still live in households without one.

The report also said 15 million of the region's 35 million pregnant women receive no preventative treatment.

And 437,000 African children under the age of five still died from the disease in 2013, out of a total of 584,000 deaths across the world.

"We can win the fight against malaria. " said WHO director-general Margaret Chan.

"We have the right tools and our defences are working," Chan said.

"But we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable."

Ebola threatens gains

The fragility of the gains is evident in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where the Ebola outbreak has halted malaria programmes in some areas and put a huge strain on health services.
"The collapse of health systems has affected all core malaria interventions and is threatening to reverse recent gains," Chan warned.
Health workers across the world are increasingly using simple tests to diagnose malaria on the spot. But these have been suspended in Ebola affected areas because of concerns about spreading the virus.

Story continues below…

Many people with malaria are also staying away from clinics, and if "they are not getting treated, you can be sure that mortality is going to increase", said Richard Cibulskis, lead author of the malaria report.
A total of 20,000 people died from malaria across the three hardest hit countries in 2013.

More than 6,300 people have died from Ebola in the region in the past year.

Aside from the direct consequences, the resurgence of malaria could also harm the fight against Ebola because the two have similar symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose the deadly virus, experts warn.
Unicef last week launched a campaign to provide anti-malarial drugs to 2.4 million people in Sierra Leone, while global aid agency Doctors Without Borders is conducting a smaller scale effort in Liberia.
Another issue threatening progress is the rise of insecticide resistance, which has been reported in 49 countries since 2010 — 39 of which reported resistance to two or more insecticide classes.
The WHO raised particular concern about the development of resistance to a commonly used drug, artemisinin, in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
"Emerging drug- and insecticide-resistance continues to pose a major threat, and if left unaddressed, could trigger an upsurge in deaths," Chan said.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available