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Gaps still remain despite malaria control

dpa logodpa 13/12/2016

While deaths from malaria have fallen dramatically in the past 15 years findings show there are still gaps, with the poorest countries faring the worst.

Malaria control programs have helped millions of children and pregnant women across Africa but "substantial gaps" in coverage remain in many nations.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 51 per cent of children reporting to clinics with a fever received diagnostic tests that enabled them to receive potentially life-saving treatment in 22 African nations last year, up from 29 per cent in 2010.

Preventative treatment coverage for pregnant women - involving at least three doses of drugs - also rose from 6 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent last year.

The WHO said while deaths from the disease have fallen dramatically in the past 15 years there are still big gaps in progress, with the poorest countries faring the worst.

Sub-Saharan Africa was home to 90 per cent of malaria cases and 92 per cent of malaria deaths last year, with children under five accounting for an estimated 70 per cent of malarial deaths in the region.

"We are definitely seeing progress, but the world is still struggling to achieve the high levels of programme coverage that are needed to beat this disease," said Dr Pedro Alonso, head of WHO's malaria programme.

About 43 per cent of the region's population still lack basic protection by mosquito nets and indoor spraying with insecticide, while more than a third of children with fever were not taken to a clinic.

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