DDT helping South Africa drastically reduce deaths from malaria
Malaria infected mosquitoes ready for dissection in the Sanaria Inc.'s manufacturing facility in Rockville, Maryland during vaccine production. [AFP]

South Africa has turned the tide on malaria, cutting mortality rates by 85 percent over the last 12 years, and hopes to soon eliminate the disease, a report stated Wednesday amid controversy over the use of highly controversial DDT.


Last year, only 70 people died from the mosquito-borne disease, compared to 460 deaths recorded in the year 2000, said the report delivered at a Pan African Malaria conference in Durban.

The number of people who caught malaria has come down to about a 10th of the cases recorded that same year.

"South Africa is well on its way to being a malaria-free country," Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

Worldwide the disease kills an estimated 660,000 people each year, 90 percent of them in Africa with the majority being children.

Countries severely affected by malaria in the continent include Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Authorities in South Africa believe the continent's wealthiest and most developed country is closer to eradicating malaria, but admit that there was no quick fix.

They aim to rid the country of the disease by the year 2018.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]