The majority of the malaria deaths were among children in Africa age 5 and younger, said Dr. B.F. Hall and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Fifty countries were on track to reduce malaria incidence rates by 75 percent by 2015, in line with established global health targets, the officials said.
"Although these data are encouraging, these countries account for a mere fraction of the world's malaria burden, which is concentrated in 14 other countries where 80 percent of malaria-related deaths occur," Hall and Fauci said in a statement. "While wider provision of proven malaria prevention and control interventions has had a significant impact in curbing the number of new malaria cases, particularly in countries with high transmission rates, much more must be done to rid the world of this scourge."
NIH-supported researchers from 16 institutions around the world recently identified a new class of anti-malaria compounds that target multiple stages of the malaria parasite's life cycle. One compound in particular -- ELQ-300 -- inhibited parasites at the stage in which they cause human infection and disease as well as at the stage responsible for transmission by the mosquito.
Preclinical development of the compound is continuing, the officials said.