Malaria Rates Decline Despite Ebola Spread January 6, 2015 By Caitlin Bradford Leave a Comment A new report from the World Health Organization shows that the global malaria death rate has fallen by 47% since 2000, and this rate has decreased by 54% in Africa where 90% of all malaria-related deaths occur. The huge drop in Africa is even more impressive when one considers that the continent’s population has increased by 43% over the same period. The WHO attributes a large portion of this decline to the widespread use of insecticide-treated nets in affected regions. In Africa alone, mosquito net usage rose from a paltry 3% to 49% in just the last year. It is estimated that 214 million nets will have been delivered to Africa by the end of 2014, bringing the total number delivered to the content to just under half-a-billion over the last two years. But, there is still much preventative work that needs to be done. The same report showed that a third of all households in malaria affected areas in sub-Saharan Africa did not have any treated nets. Indoor spraying of insecticides (meaning coating the inside walls of a home with an insecticide that kills mosquitoes and other insects that come in contact with the lacquer) has decreased, leaving many homes vulnerable to malaria and other dangerous insect-borne diseases. It is also problematic that funding for anti-malarial efforts is still far below what is projected as needed to meet development goals. It is estimated that at least $5.1 billion is needed to eliminate the malaria threat, but committed funds have barely reached $2.7 billion to date, and funding has tripled over the past eight years. Interestingly, Ebola has actually helped speed funding for efforts to fight malaria. Awareness of the deadly hemorrhagic fever has led many to donate to funds that also are helping fight malaria in Western Africa. The WHO and other organizations are calling for swift distribution of anti-malarial medication in those areas hardest hit by Ebola in order to help triage patients and separate those with malaria more easily from those with Ebola. These anti-malarial medications are a crucial line of defense against the disease, as there is no vaccine currently approved for malaria. The WHO hopes to see another steep decline in malaria related deaths by the end of 2015 but also acknowledges a new problem due to drug and insecticide resistance that has cropped up around the world, especially in Southeast Asia. How much this will affect future numbers is unknown, but, with continued commitment to battle the disease, we can hope that malaria is, slowly, on its way out.