LONDON (December 17, 2012)—A new report from the World Health Organization says the fight against malaria is slowing down as efforts to reverse the epidemic drop.
Two years ago, about 145 million bed nets were given out across Africa to protect people against the mosquitoes that spread the killer disease.
Last year, that number fell to about 66 million.
The number of homes in Africa sprayed with pesticides has also stalled, as have attempts to treat pregnant women, one of the high-risk groups.
While the malaria death rate has fallen by a quarter since 2000, officials say further improvements are in jeopardy.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said "urgency and determination" are needed to keep making progress toward the goal of eliminating malaria by the end of 2015.
WHO estimates there were about 219 million malaria cases and 660,000 deaths in 2010.
Malaria causes symptoms including fever, chills, and vomiting and can kill if not treated early.
Malaria mainly strikes children under 5, mostly in Africa.
“During the past eight years, scaled-up malaria control helped us avert over a million deaths. We must maintain this momentum and do our utmost to prevent resurgences,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, who held an official launch event for the report in Monrovia, Liberia.