Cases of malaria are declining worldwide, yet millions are still infected annually, according to a new U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) report.

“On a global scale, the rate of new malaria cases fell by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015. Malaria death rates fell by 29 percent in the same five-year period,” stated Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Program.

Yet, significant gaps remain in malaria prevention efforts as millions become infected annually and hundreds of thousands die as a result.

“In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 212 million new cases of malaria,” Alonso reported. “That same year, malaria claimed the lives of some 429,000 people worldwide, mainly young African children. One child died from malaria every 2 minutes.”

Two strands of malaria – P. falciparum and P. vivax – are most threatening to humans, with the former accounting for 99 percent of global malaria deaths.

Children under age 5 are most likely to die from malaria, WHO reports, accounting for 70 percent of annual deaths from the disease.

Africa is impacted by malaria more than any other continent, with “approximately 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of deaths” occurring there.

The report noted that expanding the availability and use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying of insecticides (IRS) are among the most effective means of reducing annual infections and deaths.

With proper use and maintenance, long-term nets can last three years, and their increased usage accounts for much of the positive progress over the last 17 years.’s series for World Malaria Day 2017 highlights how Baptist churches and organizations are among those expanding the availability of ITNs.

Even so, much work remains to be done, the report emphasized, noting that “in 2015, an estimated 47 percent of the population at risk of malaria did not sleep under a treated net … [and] an estimated 43 percent of people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa were not protected by either ITNs or IRS.”

The full report is available here.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series for World Malaria Day (April 25).

Previous articles in the series are:

Baptist Church Plays Role in Curbing Malaria in Ghana

How Baptists Are Taking the Fight to Malaria

World Malaria Day: More Than Awareness

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