Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency

London (dpa) – Malaria control programmes have helped millions of children and pregnant women across Africa but “substantial gaps” in coverage remain in many nations, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Some 51 per cent of children reporting to clinics with a fever received diagnostic tests that enabled them to receive potentially life-saving treatment in 22 African nations last year, up from 29 per cent in 2010.

Preventative treatment coverage for pregnant women – involving at least three doses of drugs – also rose from 6 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent last year, the WHO said.

Sub-Saharan Africa reported 90 per cent of malaria cases and 92 per cent of malaria deaths last year. Children under five accounted for an estimated 70 per cent of malarial deaths in the region.

About 43 per cent of the region’s population still lack basic protection by mosquito nets and indoor spraying with insecticide, while 36 per cent of children with fever were not taken to a clinic, it said.

“We are definitely seeing progress, but the world is still struggling to achieve the high levels of programme coverage that are needed to beat this disease,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, head of WHO’s malaria programme.