Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Fatal Five

Smallpox Officially declared eradicated in 1979 after a global vaccination programme led by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The last known natural case was in Somalia in 1977. Since then, the only known cases were caused by a laboratory accident in 1978 in Birmingham, England, which killed one person and caused a limited outbreak.

Polio Cases have fallen by more than 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 to 1,349 in 2010. In 2011, only parts of four countries in the world (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain endemic for the disease – the smallest geographic area in history.

Tuberculosis While mortality rates have fallen by just over a third since 1990, there were 8.8m cases and 1.45 million deaths in 2010. The Stop TB Partnership – a WHO-backed global effort – aims to halve cases and deaths by 2015 and to eliminate the disease by 2050.

Malaria There were 216m cases and an estimated 655,000 deaths in 2010. Mortality rates have fallen by more than 25% globally since 2000. Most deaths occur among children in Africa, where every minute a child dies of malaria, and the disease accounts for approximately 22% of all childhood deaths. The Roll Back Malaria partnership – the global framework coordinating action against the disease – hopes to eradicate it one day, but aims to reduce the incidence of malaria to fewer than 85-125m cases a year by 2015.

HIV/Aids HIV has claimed more than 25 million lives over the past 30 years, but new HIV infections worldwide declined by 17% between 2001 and 2009. There were approximately 34 million people living with HIV in 2010. In November last year, a joint report by the WHO, Unicef and UNAIDS found that increased access to HIV services resulted in a 15% reduction of new infections over the last decade and a 22% drop in Aids-related deaths in the last five years.

Sources: WHO, Stop TB Partnership, Roll Back Malaria Partnership, UNAIDS