The death rate from malaria has fallen by 66 percent since the year 2000 in Zambia, where treatment has made the country a role model for Africans, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.
"Zambia's efforts will be promoted as models for other countries to follow on the occasion of World Malaria Day, on 25 April," the UN agency said, stating that the distribution of 3.6 million long-lasting insecticidal nets in recent years had helped to fight the disease.
From 2006 to 2008, "malaria deaths declined 47 percent and nationwide surveys showed parasite prevalence declined 53 percent from 21.8 percent to 10.2 percent and the percentage of children with severe anemia declined 68 percent from 13.3 percent to 4.3 percent," a WHO statement said.
In 2008, malaria claimed 2,157 lives, less than half the total of 4,765 registered by the WHO in Zambia in 2004.
"This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work and commitment of the Ministry of Health of Zambia and its partners to combat malaria" said Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Notable among those partners is the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which from 2003 helped to distribute nets to kill insects and to launch artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), including a anti-malarial drug, in seven pilot districts.
The WHO has recommended that a change to ACT treatment should be made wherever the malaria parasite has developed resistance to the formerly used drug chloroquine.