LONDON, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An international goal to eliminate malaria in parts of the world by 2030 is ambitious but "achievable", the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday - World Malaria Day.
Last year, world leaders set the target for eliminating the mosquito-borne disease in at least 35 countries by 2030.
WHO's European region - which comprises 53 countries including Central Asia, Israel and Turkey - in 2015 became the first region to report zero indigenous cases.
WHO can declare a country malaria free if it has reported zero cases of indigenous malaria for three consecutive years.
The Geneva-based organisation said 21 countries are in a position to eliminate malaria within the next five years.
Here are some facts on progress in eliminating the deadly disease:
* 3.2 billion people - almost half the world's population - are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were 214 million new cases reported in 95 countries, and more than 400,000 deaths.
* Africa is the most affected region, home to 88 percent of cases and 90 percent of deaths last year.
* Since 2000, malaria death rates have fallen by 60 percent, and new cases have dropped by 37 percent globally. In Africa, death rates dropped by 66 percent overall, and by 71 percent among children under 5 years.
* These advances came through widespread use of insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying, rapid diagnostic testing and artemisinin-based combination therapies over the past decade.
* Mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticides used to treat bednets and for indoor spraying.
* In parts of Southeast Asia, a parasite that causes malaria has developed resistance to treatments, and there are concerns this resistance could spread to other regions with dire health consequences.
* Resistance to previous generations of medicines, such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, became widespread in the 1970s and 1980s, reversing gains in child survival
* In January, WHO recommended large-scale pilot projects of a new vaccine in parts of Africa, which could pave the way for wider deployment.
Source: WHO (Reporting by Alex Whiting, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)