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More money needed to fight malaria

At least £3 billion is needed in the battle to control malaria, say British and Kenyan experts.

Globally, there is a 60 per cent shortfall of funding and only 21 of 93 countries where malaria is common have had enough to pay for control measures that work.

Without more money, some countries will slip back on treatment and prevention, says a report by Oxford University’s Bob Snow and Kenya’s Kenyatta National Hospital.

Their study in The Lancet medical journal looks at the funding going into malaria prevention and treatment in 93 affected countries and suggests some countries could do more to help themselves.

On the positive side, they found that 21 countries - including 12 in Africa - now get enough or nearly enough money through donations to control the disease. But, 50 countries, where most people at risk of the disease live, do not get enough funding to fight malaria.

"Our analysis identified 10 African countries and five in Asia that are short of necessary funds and have low domestic income," said Bob Snow of the geographic medicine centre at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi, who led the study.

International funding for malaria control has actually risen to £1.2 billion this year from £0.5 billion in 2007. But £3 billion is needed in 2010 to adequately control malaria, according to estimates by the organisation, Roll Back Malaria.

About 3.3 billion people - half of the world's population -are at risk of malaria, according to the World Health Organisation. The disease, which is spread by mosquitoes, kills about 850,000 people a year.

The paper flags up the countries with the most need and those that could afford to do more about the disease with their own resources. China and India as well as Equatorial Guinea and Gabon - could afford to fund their own malaria effort, it says. The paper also points out that some countries with less of a malaria problem get more money than those with a bigger burden.

Among the poorest nations, there are 10 African countries and 5 in Asia that are short of the malaria fighting funds they need. These are Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Timor-Leste and Togo.

"Poor countries with inadequate donor assistance and large sectors of their population at risk of malaria must remain in the focus of attention if global ambitions for malaria control are to be realised," said Snow.

Under the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations members pledged to "have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases."

Hayley attribution