Malaria summit opens in Sydney

More than 200 health experts have gathered in Sydney for a three-day conference to bolster political commitment to tackle the spread of malaria.

“There were 30 million cases and 42,000 deaths reported in Asia [in 2010] so we aim to achieve greater regional collaboration and coordinated efforts from this conference,” Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, executive director of Roll Back Malaria Partnership, told IRIN. She said the Asia-Pacific region includes 20 malaria-endemic countries.

Resistance to the anti-malaria drug artemisinin emerged on the Thailand-Cambodia border around eight years ago and is suspected along the Thailand-Myanmar border and in southern Vietnam, but scientists are hoping it can be contained.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 3.3 billion people - half the world's population - are at risk of the vector-borne disease. Those living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable. In 2010, 90 percent of all malaria deaths occurred in WHO’s African Region, mostly among children under five.