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Malaria no longer leading child killer in sub-Saharan Africa says WHO

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Progress in malaria control was among the reasons the WHO African region experienced the greatest increase in life expectancy since 2000 – by 9.4 years to 60 years. Photo: UNICEF/Adenike Ademuyiwa

There is good news in the fight against malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported. The UN agency said the disease is no longer the leading cause of death among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is spread by infected mosquitoes and is preventable and curable. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor spraying help reduce transmission. Since 2000, the number of Africans dying from malaria has dropped by nearly 70 per cent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This translates into more than six million lives saved, the majority of them children. But despite this progress, WHO said Africa still accounts for nearly 90 per cent of malaria cases worldwide. The disease killed 400,000 Africans last year. WHO said gaps in access to prevention methods, as well as increasing resistance to medicines and insecticides, are among the main challenges in tackling malaria. Weak health systems are also a factor, and the agency pointed out that "malaria control gains" were lost in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea: the countries severely affected by Ebola in 2014. All 47 of WHO's African member states recently adopted a new malaria framework for the continent. It includes interventions and actions countries can take to achieve the goal of "An African Region free of malaria."

SOURCE: Deganit Perez, United Nations.

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