Demonstrating how to use the mosquito net.
Photo: Julien Harneis

14.02.2012

Global malaria mortality is far higher than previously assumed. But the number of deaths is falling.

Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up. This was reported by scientists from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, USA, in February 2012.

More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease. IHME researchers say that deaths from malaria have been missed by previous studies because of the assumption that the disease mainly kills children under five. The studies by IHME scientists show, however, that 42 percent of all malaria deaths were in people aged five and older.

The study also found that while the overall number of malaria deaths is higher than earlier reports, the trend in malaria deaths followed a similar downward pattern. Starting in 1985, malaria deaths grew every year before peaking in 2004 at 1.8 million deaths worldwide. Since then, the number of deaths fell annually, and between 2007 and 2010, the decline in deaths was more than 7 percent each year.

The new findings are published in The Lancet in "Global malaria mortality between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis." The work is part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 2010 Study.

More information: The Lancet

Author: (IHME/ile)

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