(RxWiki News) Mosquito bites are often regarded as an annoyance, but for some of the world, they can be a much more serious matter. Figures on global cases of malaria were updated in a new report.
According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Malaria Report 2013, deaths from malaria have dropped significantly since the year 2000.
However, the report also highlighted a continued need for funding to fight the disease.
"Prior to travel, check the malaria risk and talk to a doctor."
Malaria is a parasite-caused disease spread through the bites of mosquitos. The disease can cause severe reactions and death, but it can often be prevented and treated, said WHO.
The annual report, released December 11, analyzed data from 102 different countries that had ongoing transmission of malaria within their borders during the years 2000 to 2012. Using this data, WHO estimated figures on the prevalence of malaria.
"Since 2000, a tremendous expansion in the financing and coverage of malaria control programmes has led to a wide-scale reduction in malaria incidence and mortality," WHO reported.
The report found that deaths from malaria dropped an estimated 45 percent for people of all ages and 51 percent for children under the age of 5 between the years 2000 and 2012.
WHO estimated that 3.3 million malaria deaths were avoided during this time period. Furthermore, WHO estimated that 69 percent of these avoided deaths occurred in the 10 countries that had the greatest burden of malaria in 2000. "[T]hus, progress is being made where it matters most," noted WHO.
Of these avoided deaths, 90 percent (3 million) were estimated to have been in children under the age of 5 located in sub-Saharan Africa.
Though plenty of good news was seen in this report, WHO stressed that more work needs to be done in the face of malaria.
The report found that between 2011 and 2012, the pace of this decrease in malaria death rates slowed down. WHO noted that there have been decreases in funding to help fight malaria in recent years.
And though infections have decreased, WHO estimated that 207 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths occurred in 2012.
In a WHO press release, Margaret Chan, MD, WHO Director-General, highlighted the need to continue efforts to fight malaria.
“This remarkable progress is no cause for complacency: absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could,” said Dr. Chan. “The fact that so many people are infected and dying from mosquito bites is one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people traveling to areas where malaria is present take precautions. These precautions can include using bed nets, repellant and medications.