Worldwide malaria deaths fell over the last decade

The World Health Organization has reported that the estimated malaria deaths worldwide fell from 985,000 in 2000 to 781,000 in 2009.

“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, the World Bank, other international donors, and multilateral and non-governmental organizations,” the President's Malaria Initiative report says, UPI.com reports.

The report credits a portion of the decline to the contributions provided by the U.S. government, most notably through the President's Malaria Initiative.

Launched in 2005, the President's Malaria Initiative is a five year, $1.2 billion expansion of U.S. government resources to reduce the burden of malaria and help relieve poverty on the African continent, according to UPI.com. The goal of PMI is to reduce malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 15 focus countries that are vulnerable to the disease.

Even with the reported decline, malaria remains a serious problem in Africa, where one in every five childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease. Roughly 80 percent of malaria deaths occurring in African children age five and under, according to the report.

The rampant malaria in Africa also negatively affects the economy, accounting for an annual loss of $12 billion, or 1.3 percent of the continent's gross domestic product, the report says.