NAIROBI, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Researchers called for more investment in malaria control in Africa on Thursday as the latest study showed that 57 percent of the continent's population still live in moderate and high risk of infection.
Hundreds of millions of Africans run the risk of rebound transmission, with catastrophic consequences if investments are not sustained, said researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), University of Oxford, and WHO Regional Office for Africa.
"The international community has invested heavily in malaria control with finance increased from around 100 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to nearly 2 billion dollars in 2013," said Dr Abdisalan Mohamed Noor from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program and University of Oxford.
The study, published in The Lancet, showed substantial reductions in malaria transmission across most of the malaria- endemic countries of Africa between 2000 and 2010, with more than a quarter of the population (around 218 million people) now living in areas with a much lower risk of infection.
Evidence of reductions in children infection were also found in 40 of 44 countries in Africa between 2000 and 2010.
"Almost all of those in the two highest endemicity classes are living in just 10 countries. Of these, three (Guinea, Mali, and Togo) are not part of the 10 countries that are the focus of the WHO Malaria Situation Room," said Professor Robert Snow from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program.
Researchers point out that high population growth rates have reduced some of the proportional gains in transmission reduction, with 200 million extra people now living in malaria-endemic regions compared with in 2000.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria caused an estimated 660,000 deaths in 2010, mostly African children.
Experts said the challenge posed by malaria related deaths is worrisome, however it can be reversed by encouraging the use of insecticide sprays in urban centers.