The World Health Organization (WHO) has said in its new Annual Malaria Report that the disease killed nearly one million people worldwide in 2006.
According to the report, most of the dead were children below five, and African countries were mostly affected. A total of 109 countries were prone to malaria in 2008, with 45 being in Africa, the Washington Times quoted the WHO report as saying.
More than half of the Malaria cases in African nations in 2006 occurred in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, the WHO said and added that there were an estimated 247 million malaria cases in the year.
The report warned that many countries still lacked sufficient resources to tackle the disease and access to treatment was still inadequate, despite public health services were procuring more anti-malarial medicines.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters Thursday that more progress had been made in the two years since the data had been collected. "I am personally confident that we will have even better news next year. Right now, the momentum continues to build," the paper quoted her as saying.
She called on pharmaceutical companies to increase research and development into new artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs, amid reports some patients are beginning to show signs of resistance to the treatment. "We are down to pretty well the last effective medicine, artemisinin, and the old anti-malarials have developed resistance to a different extent," Dr. Chan said.