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.

rg/ds/cb