In its first two years, the World Bank's Booster Program for Malaria Control has put in operation 19 anti-malarial projects in 18 sub-Saharan countries at a cost of almost $500 million (€350 million), the bank said Thursday.
Mosquito-borne malaria infects more than 500 million people a year and kills 1 million, mostly African children under 5 years old.
"We're seeing that success is possible," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick said. "A number of sub-Saharan African countries are beginning to significantly reduce deaths and illness from malaria.
"With an additional $3 billion (€2.1 billion) per year over the next three-to-five years, elimination of one of Africa's leading killers of children may soon be within reach."
The World Bank program's two-year progress report, released Thursday, said about 240 million people, including more than 42 million children under 5 and almost 10 million pregnant women, are in areas covered by the Booster Program projects.
The program has in the pipeline almost 20 million long-lasting nets treated to kill insects and more than 15 million doses of medicine. Last week 1.4 million long-lasting nets left the Port of Cotonou, Benin, for the 77 communes of that West African country, Benin's largest net distribution ever.
Experts say the nets are the best way to avoid malarial infection.