After decades of complacency, world health groups are launching an unprecedented assault on the scourge of malaria, but much work remains to be done.
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Long overlooked in the age of the AIDS epidemic, malaria sickens more than 300 million people each year and kills more than 1 million. It also exacts a heavy economic toll. The World Health Organization estimates that the disease costs Africa, which sees 80 percent of the world`s cases, an estimated $12 billion per year in lost income.
Even those who are not killed experience lifelong effects, especially pregnant women and children. Malaria during pregnancy can result in miscarriage and low birth weight, and children who get the disease can grow up with slowed cognitive development.
‘The real tragedy,’ Bilimoria said, ‘is the disease is preventable and curable.’
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And despite the new commitments, there is still a large funding gap, Riggs said. WHO estimates that $4.2 billion per year is needed to scale-up malaria support to reach international targets — far more than the current funding available.
September 19, 2006