PAPUA New Guinea has had dramatic success in battling malaria, the World Health Organisation reports.
Five years ago, one in every five people had malaria parasites in their blood – that number is now down to two people in every 100, WHO said in its 2014 report released this week.
It said globally, the number of people dying from malaria had halved since the year 2000.
The WHO said the positive figures must be attributed to global and regional efforts and a three-fold increase in funding.
WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said: "These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing."
She said "We must not be complacent. Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions.
"Emerging drug- and insecticide-resistance continues to pose a major threat and, if left unaddressed, malaria could trigger an upsurge in deaths," she warned.
The WHO report revealed that in the Western Pacific region, malaria transmission was most intense in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, but was much more focal in other countries in the region, disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities and migrant workers.
National representative surveys in PNG showed an increase in the proportion of the population with access to a long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) in their household from 44 per cent in 2011 to 68 per cent in 2014.
On trends in cases and deaths, three countries accounted for more than 85 per cent of reported confirmed cases in 2013: PNG, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Solomon Islands.
All countries except PNG achieved a per cent decrease in the incidence of microscopically confirmed cases between 2000 and 2013, WHO reported.
"Papua New Guinea had a twofold increase in confirmed cases in 2013 compared with 2012, resulting from an increase in diagnostic testing," WHO reported.
The report added that in the years 2009 and 2014, the incidence of malaria at four sentinel surveillance sites fell from 205 in 1000 to 48 in 1000.