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World’s Fight Against Malaria at Risk on Funding Gap, WHO Says

Progress in the fight against malaria may be at risk after funding to combat the world’s third-deadliest infectious disease stagnated between 2010 and 2012, the World Health Organization said.

Global funding for malaria control remained at $2.3 billion in 2011, the WHO said in its annual World Malaria Report today. Money available for combating the mosquito-borne disease is expected to peak at about half of the $5.1 billion that’s needed annually to provide bed nets, tests and drugs to all the people who need them, the WHO said.

Malaria killed 660,000 people in 2010, mostly children under five, according to today’s report. The disease is concentrated in 14 endemic countries, including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India, and an expansion of measures to combat malaria helped avert 1 million deaths in the past eight years, according to the WHO.

Measures such as a tax on financial transactions or airline tickets, or a sale of “malaria bonds” may be necessary to raise funds, Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, head of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, said in a statement. The partnership is a collaboration between donors, countries, non-government organizations and United Nations agencies.

Targets for reducing malaria won’t be reached unless progress is accelerated in the countries that have the highest incidence, Robert Newman, the director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, said in the statement.

“These countries are in a precarious situation and most of them need urgent financial assistance to procure and distribute life-saving commodities,” he said.

Fifty countries are on track to cut their rate of malaria cases by 75 percent by 2015 from 2000, in line with global targets. Still, those countries only represent 3 percent of estimated malaria cases in 2000, the WHO said.

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