Governments, businesses and other groups have promised to add three billion dollars to the fight against malaria. The promises came last week at a meeting at the United Nations in New York.The money will support a new Global Malaria Action Plan. The plan aims to stop the disease in Africa by two thousand fifteen. Malaria is not limited to Africa, but ninety percent of deaths happen south of the Sahara. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the plan will not only support bed nets, but research, cutting drug costs and expanding health care systems.
Governments and international groups spent a billion dollars on malaria programs last year. But the Roll Back Malaria Partnership says the world should spend more than five times that amount. It says doing so could save four million lives by two thousand fifteen. The partnership includes United Nations agencies, the World Bank and leading drug makers.Earlier this month, the World Health Organization released its World Malaria Report for two thousand eight. The report presented sharply lower estimates of malaria cases than in the past. W.H.O. officials say the corrections were mostly the result of better methods of collecting information.Until now, the agency has said there were as many as five hundred million infections every year, with a million deaths. The new report estimates the number of malaria cases in two thousand six at about two hundred fifty million. And it estimates the number of deaths at eight hundred eighty-one thousand. The great majority who die are young children.
The W.H.O. says the old numbers came from using malaria maps from the nineteen sixties. But changes have taken place, including the movement of people to cities, especially in Asia. The disease is less common in urban areas.The report says malaria deaths have decreased in several countries, and a few African nations have reduced deaths by half. Yet the malaria drugs needed for what is known as artemisinin-based combination therapy reached only three percent of African children in need. In the last two years, though, there have been greatly increased efforts to provide families with bed nets. These nets are treated with insecticides to kill the mosquitoes that spread malaria. Campaigns for indoor spraying of insecticides in homes have also increased in Africa and elsewhere.And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. For more health news, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Jim Tedder.