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A team of researchers, in a new report, have said that the world could be free of malaria by 2050.

The researchers added that wiping out the disease-causing parasite would probably require extra annual funding of about $2bn.

They noted that the British Broadcasting Corporation’s claim that the world had already made huge progress against malaria since 2000 was largely due to widespread access to ways of preventing mosquito bites, such as treated bed nets and better drugs for treating infected people.

One of the study authors, Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, said, “Despite unprecedented progress, malaria continues to strip communities around the world of promise and economic potential. This is particularly true in Africa, where just five countries account for nearly half of the global burden.”

The report, published in The Lancet, was commissioned by the World Health Organisation three years ago to assess its feasibility and how much it would cost.

Another study author, Sir Richard Feachem, said, “For too long, the eradication of malaria has been a distant dream, but now we have evidence that malaria can and should be eradicated by 2050. This report shows that eradication is possible within a generation.”

Feachem, however, warned that it would take bold action to achieve this goal.

“Eradication of malaria by 2050 will require current technologies to be used more effectively and the development of new ways of tackling the disease. This could include the game-changing potential of gene-drive technologies,” the report says.

The Chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, King Mswati III of Eswatini, said, “Malaria eradication within a generation is ambitious, achievable and necessary.

“The struggle has been constant to keep up with the malaria mosquito and the parasite, both of which are evolving to evade the effect of malaria interventions. We must make sure that innovation is prioritised,” he said.

The report estimates that about $4.3bn is spent on the treatment and prevention of malaria every year at the moment. It will need $2bn a year to rid the world of malaria by 2050.

The authors also noted the cost of business as usual, in terms of loss of lives and the constant struggle against the malaria parasite and mosquitoes getting more resistant to drugs and insecticides.

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