Malaria killed nearly one million people worldwide according to most recent figures, with children under five and African countries bearing the brunt, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
"There were an estimated 247 million malaria cases among 3.3 billion people at risk in 2006, causing nearly a million deaths, mostly of children under 5 years," the WHO said in its Annual Malaria Report.
109 countries were endemic for malaria in 2008, nearly half (45) in Africa, it noted.
Countries still lack sufficient resources to tackle the disease and even though public health services are procuring more anti-malaria medicines, access to treatment is still inadequate in all countries surveyed, the WHO said.
Most African countries are way off meeting the 80 percent coverage target for the four main treatments -- mosquito nets, drugs, indoor insecticde spray and treatment during pregnancy -- set by the WHO in 2005, the report said.
For example, the survey found that supplies of insecticide-treated nets to national malaria control programmes were only sufficient to protect a quarter (26 percent) of people in 37 African countries.
More than half of the African cases in 2006 occurred in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, the WHO said.
Deaths due to the mosquito borne disease are estimated to sap more than a full percentage point from the annual economic growth of the most affected nations.