Malaria Deaths Plummet 20% Over Decade Dozens of countries poised to eliminate disease By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Oct 18, 2011 4:43 PM CDT 6 comments Comments In this Sept. 30, 2010 file photo, women hold mosquito nets after receiving them at a distribution point in Sesheke, Zambia. (AP Photo, File) (Newser) – Countries across the globe are making giant strides against malaria, the World Health Organization says: The number of deaths from the disease has dropped more than 20% over the last 10 years, and a third of the 108 countries where the illness is endemic could be rid of it in the next decade, the BBC reports. Some 15 million more deaths could be avoided by 2015 if health targets keep being achieved, experts say. “Better diagnostic testing and surveillance has provided a clearer picture of where we are on the ground—and has shown that there are countries eliminating malaria in all endemic regions of the world,” says a WHO expert. But the disease remains one of the world’s top health threats. Some 781,000 people died of malaria in 2009, with 85% of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa; most were kids under 5.