Speed Reads

some good news

Huge strides are being made in the fight against malaria

In what the World Health Organization's director general calls a "tremendous achievement," the number of people dying from malaria has been cut in half.

Between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were prevented, including 3.9 million children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa, the BBC reports. Malaria is spread by mosquitos, and in 2004 only 3 percent of people at risk for the disease had mosquito nets; now, half do. In 2013, for the first time, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka reported zero indigenous cases of malaria, and 11 other countries — including Egypt, Iraq, Argentina, and Morocco — maintained zero cases. In Africa, where 90 percent of all malaria deaths happen, infections were down from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.

WHO's Dr. Margaret Chan told the BBC that increased political commitment and better access to treatment and tools were all behind these gains, but added that malaria is still a problem that needs more funding. "We must not be complacent," she said. "Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions."