U.N. Launches World Malaria Day

Today U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon launched World Malaria Day. "Malaria still kills more than 1 million people every year," he said. "The toll it is taking is unacceptable -- all the more so because malaria is preventable and treatable."

The United Nations is calling for the elimination of all malaria-related deaths by the end of 2010. "We have the resources and the know-how ," Ban said, "but we have less than 1,000 days before the end of 2010."

Below, ABC News takes a look at six countries battling malaria and assesses their progress in containing the disease.

NIGERIA

In Nigeria, Africa's most populated country, malaria poses a significant health risk, affecting at least 50 percent of its citizens, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO states that the disease is responsible for 25 percent of the deaths of children younger than 5. It estimates that about 24 million Nigerian children younger than 5 will suffer from at least two attacks of malaria annually.

In December 2006, the World Bank announced that it had doubled funding to fight malaria to the tune of $180 million. The money went toward a project that planned to cut the country's malaria cases in half by 2010.

But today, on World Malaria Day, Yemi Sofola, the national coordinator of the roll-back-malaria program, told reporters that the country would not be able to meet the 2010 deadline.

SENEGAL

In the African nation of Senegal, about 10 percent of the people suffer from malaria every year.

Children who are younger than 5 are particularly exposed to the disease. Protecting them is essential. A program is expected to be launched in the fall to immunize children.

"This treatment is part of a new preventive strategy," said Cheikh Sokhna, of the Development and Research Institute. "It will be applied to 100,000 children who live in high-risk zones."

The new treatment has been largely financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $3.9 million. It has already yielded spectacular results in the town of Niakhar, where the mortality rate from malaria decreased by 86 percent. "The aim is to see whether this can be repeated on a larger scale," Sokhna told Agence-France Presse.

"I am convinced that people can live with malaria without dying, thanks to better access to health care," said Sokhna.

YEMEN

In Yemen, a poor country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, societal instability accelerated the public health crisis. Social unrest led to a breakdown in prevention efforts during the 1990s, while heavy rainfalls resulted in malaria epidemics in 1995 and 1998.

Now the country sees 800,000 to 900,000 cases of malaria and roughly 12,000 fatalities each year, according to the WHO. Approximately 60 percent of the population live in malaria-affected areas.

The WHO describes malaria as one of the most serious health problems in Yemen. It is working with the Yemeni government to distribute mosquito control equipment to curb the disease.

Making matters worse, malaria is the most widespread disease among the influx of refugees arriving from war-torn Somalia, located across from Yemen along the Gulf of Aden.

INDIA

Asia is the often-forgotten younger sibling of Africa when it comes to malaria. Today there are 100 million cases here, most notably in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia, and 100,000 deaths every year.

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