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Malaria Deaths Highly Underestimated

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Malaria may kill twice as many people worldwide than previously estimated, a new study reports.

Researchers of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHMA) analyzed all available information about malaria deaths from 1980 to 2010 and found that approximately 1.2 million humans died from the mosquito-borne disease in 2010. A much higher figure than the previously estimated 655.000 deaths by the World Health Organization.

The new study skewers the belief that the overwhelming majority of malaria deaths occur among children under five. In 2010, more than 78,000 children aged five to 14, and more than 445,000 aged 15 or older, died of malaria, together accounting for 42 per cent of the total.

Yet there is also positive news. Malaria deaths have been falling sharply thanks to intervention programs that were set up the past ten years. It appears that since the malaria peak in 2004 (1.8 million deaths) the mortality rate declined annually by about 7 per cent between 2007 and 2010.

“Since 2004, the number of malaria deaths has dropped by about a third, and that’s really been the time when the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has swung into action” said The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton. ”Over the past decade, 230 million cases of malaria have been treated and the same number of bed nets have been distributed to people at risk of malaria, and the result of that has been this huge downturn. So what we know is that we’re actually able to turn off malaria with our existing interventions.”

Source: BBC, ABC ScienceNRC

Murray, C., Rosenfeld, L., Lim, S., Andrews, K., Foreman, K., Haring, D., Fullman, N., Naghavi, M., Lozano, R., & Lopez, A. (2012). Global malaria mortality between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis The Lancet, 379 (9814), 413-431 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60034-8

Photo via Daily Tzolkin

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