Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The number of children under five dying from malaria dropped by half between 2000 and 2012, to under half a million, according to the World Health Organization.
The WHO's World Malaria Report 2013 shows that across all age groups deaths fell by 45 percent. The report states that if these trends continue, malaria deaths could fall by 63 percent in children below the age of five and 56 percent across all ages by 2015.
The report estimates that 3.3 million people escaped death since 2001, about 66 percent of malaria cases in the ten countries with the highest occurrence of the disease. Sustained efforts and funding by governments and organizations has cut incidences of the disease by 29 percent globally and 31 percent in Africa.
The highest death and incidence rates for malaria were found in sub-Saharan Africa. Around 40 percent of malaria deaths and 32 percent of cases were reported in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Globally, 207 million cases and 627,000 malaria deaths were reported in 2012.
"The absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could. The disease still took an estimated 627,000 lives in 2012, mostly those of children under five years of age in Africa," wrote Margaret Chan, the WHO director general, in the foreword of the report.
An estimated 52 nations are on track to to cut malaria incidences by 75 percent by 2015, but these nations account for only 4 percent of the total estimated cases, with 80 percent of deaths reported in just 17 countries.
Even though the progress is laudable, the WHO said that the progress in preventing malaria deaths has slowed down in the last few years, due to decreased funding. And funding is expected to be below par for the next two tears. The WHO estimates a modest funding increase from $2.5bn to $2.85bn by 2016.