Around 35 percent of the world's population is at risk of contracting the deadliest form of malaria but a recent study found that a larger number than previously thought lives in low-risk areas.
The Malaria Atlas Project, run by Kenyan and British researchers, found that 2.37 billion people - mostly in Africa and Asia - are at risk of contracting P. falciparum.
However, the study said that "almost one billion of these people are in areas where the risk of infection is extremely low."
Researchers said the findings show "elimination is epidemiologically feasible, and large areas of Africa are more amenable to control than appreciated previously," raising hope that the disease could be more precisely targeted.
"We were very surprised to find a significant number of people were facing a much lower risk than was previously thought," said Simon Hay from the University of Oxford.
"Of course, this does not mean that malaria is any less of a problem, but it gives us hope that eliminating the disease from certain regions may be achievable" using simple methods such as insecticide-treated bed nets, he said.
The study was published in the Public Library of Science medical
journal. – (Sapa)