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Malaria deaths down 20% 2000-2009

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ATLANTA, April 26 (UPI) -- Estimated malaria deaths worldwide fell from 985,000 in 2000 to 781,000 in 2009, U.S. health officials say, citing a World Health Organization report.

"These reductions are due, in large part, to a dramatic scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment measures since 2005, thanks to the collective efforts of national governments, the U.S. government, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank, other international donors, and multilateral and non-governmental organizations," the report by the President's Malaria Initiative says.

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"This report describes the role and contributions of the U.S. government to reduce the burden of malaria in Africa and its impact on health systems. The activities and results described below represent the effect of the first four years of President's Malaria Initiative funding -- fiscal years 2006-2009 -- or approximately 60 percent of the $1.265 billion requested for the initiative."

Nonetheless, malaria remains one of the major public health problems in Africa, with about 80 percent of malaria deaths occurring in African children age 5 and under, the report says.

In addition, economists estimate malaria accounts for about 40 percent of public health expenditures in some African countries and causes an annual loss of $12 billion, or 1.3 percent of the continent's gross domestic product, the report says.

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