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Global Malaria Deaths Higher Than Previously Thought

Global Malaria Deaths Higher Than Previously ThoughtMalaria kills more people each year than previously recognized -- nearly 1.2 million people worldwide -- with more than 40 percent of deaths occurring in older children and adults, according to research published in the Feb. 4 issue of The Lancet.

Christopher J.L. Murray, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues systematically analyzed all available data for malaria mortality from 1980 to 2010. The researchers developed a range of predictive models, including ensemble models, to estimate malaria mortality. They used predictors of malaria mortality such as Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence, first-line antimalarial drug resistance, and vector control. Out-of-sample predictive validity was used to select the final model.

The researchers found that global malaria deaths increased from 995,000 in 1980 to a peak of 1,817,000 in 2004 and decreased again to 1,238,000 in 2010. In Africa, malaria deaths increased from 493,000 in 1980 to 1,613,000 in 2004 and decreased by about 30 percent -- to 1,133,000 -- in 2010. Outside of Africa, malaria deaths steadily decreased from 502,000 in 1980 to 104,000 in 2010. More deaths in individuals aged 5 years or older were calculated than in previous studies, with 435,000 deaths in Africa and 89,000 deaths outside of Africa in 2010.

"Our findings show that the malaria mortality burden is larger than previously estimated, especially in adults," the authors write.

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