Ban Ki-moon describes the toll taken by malaria as 'unacceptable'
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for the elimination of malaria deaths by the end of 2010 as he marked the first World Malaria Day.
The disease causes over a million deaths a year, with 90% of all cases occurring in Africa.
Mr Ban wants all of Africa to have access to basic measures to control the disease such as bed nets and sprays.
"We have the resources and the know-how but we have less than 1,000 days before the end of 2010," he said of the goal.
More than half a billion people are infected with malaria each year.
Despite this, it is preventable and treatable.
In a video message, the secretary general said household sprays and bed nets treated with insecticide would be offered "to all people at risk, especially women and children in Africa".
He called for bed nets for an extra 500 million people, more malaria clinics, more training for community health workers, and encouragement of research into the disease.
Mr Ban described the 2010 deadline as a "bold but achievable vision", saying that several African countries had "made dramatic strides in malaria control".
But he added: "The most affected nations remain off track to reach the goal of halting and reversing the incidence of the disease."
Previous efforts to control malaria have proved less than successful.
In 1998 the Roll Back Malaria initiative aimed to halve malaria deaths by 2010 - but halfway through the programme deaths had actually risen.
Reversing the trend of increase in malaria and other diseases is one of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, aimed at reducing poverty and improving the quality of life by 2015.